Fairy for Dessert, A: Beiersdorf’s Gay German Film

Similar in premise, though not as funny as, La Cage Aux Folles, the originally titled German feature A Fairy for Dessert aims at being an existential comedy about a “modern family,” one that defies the easy labels of heterosexual or homosexual unit.

However, once the “deviant,” nonconventional network is set and accepted by the viewers, the narrative becomes conventional and the treatment sentimental.

Lothar Lambert, the helmer’s collaborator in other films, plays Julchen, a good-natured transvestite who has become a mother figure to Nina, a half Moroccan girl, through his relationship with the more masculine Rajab, Nina’s father. Nina is told that her biological mother is dead, though she is very much around, observing her kid from afar. Narrative revolves around Julchen’s strong desire and frustrating attempts to bring everybody together, which creates obvious complications.

Writer-director Beiersdorf’s mild approach to her material can be described as a blend of cynicism and sentimentality. Like La Cage Aux Folles, the intermittently funny comedy attacks all facades and hypocrisies–gay or straight. Ultimately, what saves the comedy from over familiarity and banality is a gallery of warm and vulnerable characters that are treated gently, without any prejudice or bias.

Beiersdorf’s previous feature, Dirty Daughters, also presented at the Toronto Festival, showed tighter and more compelling direction than her work in this one. Fortunately, Lambert, who also edited the film, gives a flamboyantly funny performance in the lead role. He is ably supported by the rest of the cast, particularly Suzanne Gautier as the mother, who looks a bit like the older Simone Signoret.

A Fairy for Dessert lacks the vital ingredient of comic energy; story often drags from one scene to another. Moreover, the film’s happy ending is not only contrived but also unearned.

The campy costume design uses pink and purple as dominant colors for Julchen’s outrageous outfits; his shoes’ always match his dress.