Liza, the Fox Fairy
(Károly Ujj Mészáros)

A scene from Károly Ujj Mészáros'  Liza, the Fox Fairy  {Photo: MAGYAR FILMUNIO}

A scene from Károly Ujj Mészáros' Liza, the Fox Fairy {Photo: MAGYAR FILMUNIO}

Liza, the Fox Fairy screens on Saturday, March 5 and Thursday, March 10. For additional ticketing information, please refer to the Gene Siskel Film Center's website here.

The self-conscious Liza, the Fox Fairy operates under a fairly shaky premise. We find Liza (Mónika Balsai), a lonely caretaker and Japanophile, contending with the immediate death of her client and her subsequent attempts to acclimate with the outside world. Imagine Being There as realized by Kristen Wiig and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Károly Ujj Mészáros is a gifted stylist, and given that this is his debut, it’s an all the more impressive exhibition of reworking a tired narrative and enlivening it. My initial skepticism of the film’s process – of its overt attempts to flatter its audience for being aware of the conventions its poking fun at – are remedied through Balsai’s touching performance. This is the kind of film that could easily be led astray by cynicism, by ridiculing its central character’s loneliness and making it the object of humor. But Balsai’s delicacy amid all of Mészáros’ eccentricities goes a long way in instilling Liza with a real sense of pathos and humanity.