Starring: Efrat Dor, Dana Ivgy, Yael Bar-Zoher,
Genre: Comedy/ Drama/ World Cinema
At the Tel-Aviv home of Ofer (Ofer Shechter), a group of six friends sit down to watch the annual Universong (basically EuroVision), and as usual they are less than an impressed with the Isreali entry which as per usual performs very badly in the contest results. To cheer one of their friends up they perfome an inpromptu song (as you do) which they also happen to capture on film (as you also do). Before they know it, the song has gone viral and made its way to those responsible for Isreal’s entry into next year’s Universong, and the group of friends are reluctantly the entry into the following year’s contest. However, as they find fame and are at the mercy of music producers they learn all about the shallow world of the music industry, in particular Universong, as well as the importance of being true to not only themselves, but one another as well.
The Eurovision song contest shallow? Really? I am shocked! Though Eytan Fox’s film has an element of satire that will not shock anyone who has ever even heard of The Eurovision Song
Contest, its main focus is on the feel-good crowd pleasing factor, and in my view achieves that with the right amount of success. Cupcakes is a pure crowd pleasing feel-good comedy that though it takes mild sweeps at Eurovision, is also happy at the same time to embrace what so many of us love about Eurovision (and what many hate about it) and its outrageous shameless cheesiness. Every narrative development can be predicted way before it happens, but that is OK as Eytan Fox and his cast are happy to embrace all the film’s obvious flaws to produce an almost reassuringly enjoyable film.
Many comparisons have been made to the films of Almodóvar, and that is certainly evident in Fox’s directorial style, giving more substance to the admittedly flimsy plot. The camerawork and set design are very deliberate and well put together; the mise-en-scène and what the characters are wearing are intentionally dominated by conflicting bright colours, capturing the exuberance of Eurovision, as well as creating a visually pleasing film.
As the plot develops, there are little shocks or surprises, but the film’s effortless charm and the energetic performances make sure that the narrative is involving and immensely enjoyable. As I said before, there are mild swipes at the culture of Eurovision, but these are very mild. Of course, to go too scathing would result in a film of a different genre and incorporate darker and more satirical tones, and it is understandable that Fox prefers to keep things light. With many musical and sing-along moments in the narrative, Fox is never shy to show the aim behind the narrative of Cupcakes, and certainly deserves credit in my view for unashamedly nailing its flags to its narrative mast.
Cupcakes is perhaps not a film that will last long in the memory, but at a suitably lean 90 minutes, is a very enjoyable and well made film that will surely put a smile on the face of anyone that watches, especially those many millions of us Europeans that love the Eurovision song contest and its outrageous cheesiness.