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Film / Lisa The Foxfairy

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Liza a Rókatündér (Lisa the Fox-fairy) is a 2015 Hungarian Romantic Black Comedy film, directed by Károly Mészáros Ujj, starring Mónika Balsai as Lisa, David Sakurai as Tomy Tani, and Szabolcs Bede Fazekas as police Ensign Zoltán.

In a never-existed 1970's capitalist Hungary, Lisa is the house-nurse of Márta Tanaka, the elderly, heavily asthmathic widow of the Japanese ex-ambassador to Hungary. Lisa is very shy and awkward, her only companion is her Imaginary(?) Friend, the ghost of Tomy Tani, a Japanese pop-singer, who died at a young age, and whose songs are the favorites of both her and the elderly lady.

Lisa dreams of finding True Love on her thirtieth birthday, exactly how she read it in an old Japanese pulpfiction novel. When her birthday finally comes, she asks Lady Márta for two hours off so she could go out and achieve this dream. Tomy Tani however (who isn't quite as imaginary as Lisa thinks) becomes jealous, and does everything in his power to make sure Lisa doesn't succeed- killing Lady Márta as a start, and continuing with every single possible suitor.


This movie contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Alternate History: The movie takes place in a capitalist Hungary in the 1970's.
  • Anachronism Stew: Zoltán's favorite song is Jäätynyt Sade, which was released in 1994.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Lisa's first suitor-to-be loves dishes such as fried carp with maple syrup or pork trotters in chocolate pudding.
  • Black Comedy: It's about a girl trying to find love, but every man she tries to get to know ends up dead through weird and bizarre accidents.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Whenever someone tries to get close to Lisa, Tomy Tani's eyes turn into black holes with smoldering edges.
  • But I Read a Book About It: Lisa thinks she'll find her love exactly as she read it in her favorite pulp-novel.
  • California Doubling: The scenes taking place in the forest of Nasu, Japan were filmed in the Julian Alps in Slovenia.
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  • The Casanova: Deconstructed with Henrick. He is handsome and flirtous and also succussfull with the ladies. He's initially also kind to Lisa, although very clearly not interested in her. Then it turns out he keeps multiple lovers, and once Lisa starts paying attention to her looks he has no problem attempting to seduce her, making her belive he genuinely likes her, only to "cheat" on her immediately after she confessed how much she loves him. Although Lisa remains largely unaware, the film portrays him as an antagonist, instead of celebrating his "awesome skills", for which The Casanova trope is usually used for.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Because Lisa imagines that she'll find her love exactly as she read it in a Japanese pulp novel, she's thinks she'll be surrounded by these when it happens. Tomy Tani creates this illusion for her, when he tries to make her stay with him.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Tomy Tani is obsessed with Lisa, and kills (or at least tries to kill) any men who shows interest in her.
    • Henrick is killed by the husband of one of his many lovers.
  • Dark Reprise: Tomy Tani's song "Dance Dance Have a Good Time!" becomes increasingly more and more disturbing as the story moves forwards, without having anything changed about it.
  • Doom Magnet: Subverted, the whole premise of the old Japanese folktale about fox-fairies. According to the story, fox-fairies are women bearing the curse that anyone who shows anything but pure, selfless love towards them will die, and even their True Love will be haunted by freak accidents, but none of them would be fatal.
  • Driven to Suicide: As a result of the deaths surrounding her, Lisa eventually gets to the point where she takes a huge load of sleeping pills. Zoltán saves her.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Death appears in different forms for everyone he has to take to the afterlife: as a beauty queen in front of an astronaut hit by a micrometeor, as a fish in front of an eskimo who froze to death, as a little girl in a ballet tutu in front of the chimney sweeper and Tomi Tani in front of Lady Márta. This also becomes his default form when he's around Lisa. During the climax, he also tries to convince her to stay with him, by taking the forms of Henrick and Zoltán. All the forms have one thing in common 'tho: they all wear Tomi's signature Nerd Glasses.
  • Freudian Threat/Visual Innuendo: When Herik shows up at Inge's after avoiding her for weeks, she's not fooled by his attempt. Instead she takes the flowers he brought for her smells it while holding them horizontally, then breaks their stalk just under the heads before giving them back. Then she shouts inside to her new lover as she shuts the door.
  • Hell Is That Noise: After the apparent death of Zoltán and Henrik, Lisa is taken in for questioning by the police. In the scene Lisa's shot from the back and her face is never shown. She is by this point completely broken by the deaths surrounding her, and all she says is "I'm cursed...I'm a fox-fairy...". Then a cracking, twitching noise sounds, suggesting that a Baleful Polymorph transformation started, or at least she's imagining that it's happening to her... Then the Police Captain yells at one of his subordinates to turn of the "damned coffee machine!"
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted during the climax, Tomi Tani threatens Lisa that he would kill Zoltán if she doesn't stay with him, but promises to leave him alone if she does. Lisa agrees to stay...and the curse is broken.
  • Hidden Depths: Invoked and discussed. Zoltán stops Lisa's first suicide attempt by showing her a picture of a woman that looks like something else entirely if viewed upside-down. Then he takes it off the wall and shows her that on it's back is the rest of the legend of the fox-fairies: the part that explains how True Love can break the curse. Becomes a Chekhov's Gun. Later on Zoltán writes/draws a sweet note to Lisa that reads "Cherryblossom for UFO-s" which is how she described her infatuation with Henrick. At first she thinks it was written by Henrick, but when she shows it to Tomy Tani disguised as Henrick she notices that the picture of the cherry blossoms and the Flying Saucer gives the picture of a woman upside-down. When Tomy Tani says he can't see the other picture, it leads Lisa to realize her mistake.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with Lisa being questioned by the police about the weird deaths surrounding her. To show how serious the movie is, the scene is actually legitimately creepy...until the narrator cuts in, stating that it makes no sense like this, and they should start at the beginning.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Zoltán rushing to save Lisa's life (who locked herself in to commit suicide) shoots off the lock on her apartment door with his pistol, but keeps the pistol in his hand and his finger on the trigger while he runs towards her room. That was a bad idea, because he trips, the gun discharges into the ceiling, he falls, the gun fires again hitting him in the left hand, while the chandelier hit by the first bullet falls on his head.
  • Karma Houdini: Tomy Tani kills a bunch of people for daring to look on Lisa, attempts to drive her to suicide, gives her a Sadistic Choice, and even after his curse on her is broken he continues following her around, trying to kill Zoltán whom she marries and has a daughter with, and the worst punishment he gets is that he'll never succeed in doing so...and that Lisa moved from listening and singing his songs to Finish polka songs, which at least seems to annoy him.
  • Kitsune: The legend of the fox-fairies is based upon the actual Japanese legend about shape-shifting kitsunes who turn into beautiful women to seduce men and kill them.
  • Large Ham: David Sakurai's shamelessly hamming it up as Tomy Tani, either by constantly dancing, prancing around and singing into his retro microphone with a wide and bright smile as if he's giving a concert, or making the most villainous expressions he can muster. And he does this without saying a word (his songs were recorded by the singer of Eric Sumo band, the composers of the film's soundtrack), right-up until the climax of the movie.
  • Mood Dissonance: If it wasn't for the "accidents" played for slapstick comedy, and the fast-paced cheerful soundtrack, looking only at the plot of the movie would have made it into a paranormal horror/thriller or even into a slasher movie.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: The dress Lisa sews for herself would be considered a bit daring for casual wear even today, and would've been rather outrageous in a 70's Hungary. It led Mr. Ludvig, the man who answered Lisa's ad for a Blind Date, to the conclusion that she was a prostitute. Lisa, being as social awkward as she is, didn't even realize this.
  • Nerd Glasses: Tomi Tany wears these.
  • Nice Guy: Sergant Zoltán is sent to investigate the first three deaths around Lisa; to do so, he moves in to the spare room she's renting out. Practically everything is broken or dysfunctional in the old house, but instead of complaining he secretly starts to fix things. When Lisa breaks down after the number of deaths surrounding her double within one afternoon and tries to commit suicide, he stops her, and shows her the remaining part of the story about the fox-fairies which describes how True Love can break the curse. When she mistakenly believes the womanizer Herrick to be the one who selflessly fixed things on the house, and seems to be getting together with him he doesn't get offended and instead drops a clue that becomes vital in the climax. He also stands up to his boss, defending Lisa.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Tomy Tani is eventually revealed to be Death himself, who fell in "love" with Lisa, six years prior to the start of the story, when he went to take Lady Márta to the afterlife.
  • The Power of Love: Only mutual and selfless True Love can break the curse on a fox-fairy.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Lisa is obsessed with Japan and japanese culture, and accordingly she insists on everyone taking off their shoes at the door. When Zoltán takes her home from the police after he cleared her, she doesn't bother with taking off the muddy slippers she was in as she plods to her room, leaving a trail of mud on the floor.
  • Pun
    • The story takes place in Csudapest instead of Budapest. "Csuda" is archaic for "csoda" which means "miracle" or "wonder". However the Police Department featured in the movie has the initial "C" of signal above the entrance missing, which this way reads "Police Department of Sutapest". "Suta" means "clumsy", "awkward" in Hungarian.
    • Mekkburger is a fastfood restaurant serving primarily food made from goat. "Mekk" is the Hungarian word for the sound of a goat, and is pronounced similar to the "Mac" in Scottish names such as...MacDonald, making the restaurant combined joke at the expense of MacDonald's and Burgerking.
  • Running Gag: The Police Captain tries to use a Hungarian adage fitting the situation, but always forgets the second part.
    Police captain:...Fuck it!
    • Subverted at the end of the movie. He still forgets what the second part is, but when Zoltán tries to finish it with the Precision F-Strike he says no and instead compares Lisa to ebola, stating that the latter is less dangerous.
  • Sadistic Choice: During the climax Tomy Tani threatens Lisa with killing Zoltán if she won't stay with him, which means she has to die. This however proves to be his undoing, because when Lisa agrees in order to protect Zoltán, Tomy's curse on her is broken.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Lisa takes the advice she reads in a Cosmopolitan magazine about paying attention to her looks, and suddenly a lot of men becomes interested in her. It "helped" that she took things a bit far with the dress she had sewn for herself.
  • Shinigami: Death appears to Lisa as Japanese popsinger Tomy Tani who wears a green tuxedo.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene midway-though the movie, when Lisa goes out to learn more about fox-fairies: she just had a rather disturbing dream, and asks Tomy Tani to accompany her to the library. As they cross the streets Tomy promptly breaks out in a fast-paced, cheerfully funky pop song, and he keeps it up even as men start falling like flies around Lisa. Not only that the refrains are "Harakiri a-ah!(?)". Harakiri is a western name of seppuku, the ritualistic suicide commited by disgraced samurais: Tomy is effectively cheering on Lisa to commit suicide.
  • Supreme Chef: Lisa's cooking is great.
  • Through His Stomach: Lisa's first attempt to find a suitor is cooking everything in his mother's recipe book. He loves it, although Lisa finds all of them disgusting.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The final scene shows Lisa and Zoltán ten years after the events of the movie they're married, have a daughter together and they're enjoying their trip to Japan even though Tomy Tani is still following them around trying to kill Zoltán.


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