By Philippa May
Fairy tales are often considered the realm of children, unrealistic heroes find themselves in a world of folkloric magic; on quests and learning lessons. Fairy tales for grown-up are no different. Heroes and heroines take us along their journeys with them and show us worlds in which reality is in soft focus. Big Fish and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are two of the best known films of this genre but there are many more that I could mention. However, here are just five of my favourite modern fairy tales that you should definitely check out in order to cast a softer focus on the harsh lines of reality for a couple of hours.
After a career ending fall, stunt performer (Lee Pace) is taken to hospital to recuperate. There he meets Alexandria, an immigrant child-labourer who has broken her arm picking oranges. The unlikely pair pass the time weaving a fantastic tale that melts fairytales, movies and the real-life experiences of Alexandria, played stunningly by Catinca Untara.
Twelve year old Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) takes us on a stunning, emotional tale, interweaving the lives of her illustrious seafaring ancestors with those of the people of a secluded, neglected community struggling to find its place in a changing world. While tense at times, the film beautifully tackles the importance of female leadership and accepting change while maintaining links to your traditions, your land and your people.
In this offbeat, coming-of-age fairytale, protagonist Kitty (Cillian Murphy) guides the audience through the tall tales and half-truths that she has used to construct her own identity in a world that doesn’t accept who she is. A gender-nonconforming teen, unhappy with her life in a small town on the Irish border during the Troubles, Kitty heads to London on an epic quest to find her beautiful Mammy.
Probably the least well-known film on this list, Mustang centres on narrator Lale, her older sisters, and their rebellious love for one another in the face of oppression and cruelty from their grandmother and abusive uncle. Taking place during one dreamy summer in rural Turkey, the incredible acting and beautiful soundtrack create a dream-like atmosphere in a story that is all too real at its roots.
Perhaps more detached from realism than some of the other offerings on the list, Bunny and the Bull follows agoraphobic Stephen as he attempts to deal with his anxiety by travelling through his memories. The highly stylised visuals add a layer of whimsy to an otherwise emotional journey. Unsurprisingly, Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding both star in this surreal delight.
So, if you’re looking for a dose of escapism and a fairytale suited to a more mature palate, then load up one of these bad boys before bed tonight!