This year we were left without Eurovision because of the coronavirus crisis, but lovers of the legendary song contest found comfort in Netflix thanks to Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The musical comedy landed last Friday with the unanimous disapproval of the critics (it is as surreal as the contest itself) but the public has cared very little what the specialists said.
A week after its premiere, it remains one of the most viewed films on the service (at the time of writing this article it is ranked 5) and the networks do not speak of anything other than a supporting actor who stole the limelight as the Russian representative, homosexual and lyrical: Dan Stevens, a most chameleonic performer that Hollywood needs to pay more attention to.
And Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga would have been released in the middle of the last decade, there is no doubt that Will Ferrell it would have been the main draw for comedy lovers. However, the unforgettable Ron Burgundy here is overshadowed and twice. Ferrell is the great architect behind this production being the main character, screenwriter and producer -and the only one of the main trio who sings with his real voice-, but his parodic sense of humor no longer provokes the same humor, being the naturalness of Rachel McAdams and the satirical marvel of Dan Stevens those that steal all our attention (even though they both do playback on the voices of other artists). The network has noticed it and they are the two names that are repeated the most in the stratosphere of tweets when this film is commented on.
And so it’s time to talk about Dan. He has more than earned it. That Briton who many remember for being the most striking romantic interest of Downton Abbey, who broke thousands of hearts by leaving the series too soon, deserves our attention for a moment. At 37, he has a resume that shows a chameleon capacity that Hollywood has not yet exploited to the fullest. And what’s even better, he’s the only one who seems to know exactly what kind of movie he’s making when we see him in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga giving us the most quirky, sexy, villainous but captivating character in the entire movie. You can tell that he is having a great time and his scenes are real Eurovision moments.
Dan plays Alexander Lemtov, the Russian representative of (initially) ambiguous sexuality – including criticism of the homosexual rejection that exists in Russia – who tries to intrude between the protagonist couple, an Icelandic duo that enters the contest with little chance. They are two childhood friends who have been dreaming all their lives of participating in the same ceremony where ABBA was, but who begin to discover their differences with the help of Alexander when he tries to seduce Rachel McAdams using all his weapons. To which more exaggerated.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga It is not a movie that will go down in history. Its plot borders on a childlike surrealism that at times causes chills, but manages to reach the hearts of all those who know and enjoy the European contest. Despite being an American production, it manages to capture the Eurovision spirit perfectly with those absurdly catchy songs that characterize it so much, giving away a barrage of cameos from contestants from the past that has managed to generate tachycardia to more than one, especially with the medley where well-known figures such as Alex Ryback, Netta Barzilai, Elina Netsajeva, Conchita Wurst, Jessy Matador, Bilal Hassani, Anna Odobescu, John Lundvik or, in another sequence, Salvador Sobral appear.
Dan left Downton Abbey to seek new horizons, moving away from the stereotype of the vintage English heartthrob to try his luck in other genres. He had several supporting roles, a series of his own with all three seasons of the magnificent Legion (2017-2019) and was the Beast in the remake of Beauty and the Beast. However, there is a movie that anyone who has just discovered his self-parodic talent must see without fail: The Guest, a thriller prior to the arrival of John Wick where Dan Stevens gives a ballistic feast to fans of extreme action while bringing out that exaggeratedly surreal facet that he displays in the Eurovision film.
After directing horror movie segments like V/H/S (2012) and its sequel, Adam Wingard developed this action movie where Dan unfolds his full potential as a villain, as a romantic interest, as an action star and as an actor ready for anything. The Guest it is a film that would fit the type of cinema B. Its proposal is simple and goes straight to the point, the violence is extreme and the protagonist, while the background of the plot remains in the background.
The Guest It begins with Dan Stevens playing David, a soldier who appears by surprise at the family home of his friend who has died on duty. Grieving at the loss, the family quickly finds comfort in her presence. David is polite and smiling, although we know from the beginning that he has a dark side that we will soon discover. The plot is quite simple and one of those that we have seen many times, but the originality lies in the naturalness with which it is presented and the frenetic pace with which it develops, achieving a film that seems original even if it is not. The same thing that got John Wick shortly after.
If in the Eurovision movie, Dan Stevens brings out all his arsenal to play with the intentions of his character through his chameleon flexibility, in The Guest presents more of the same but from another perspective. Those who have not seen it yet will discover a Dan Stevens they did not know, and will surely end up agreeing that it is time for Hollywood to start giving him the roles he deserves.
You can find it on Prime Video and Filmin.
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