We don’t get to choose when loved ones die, but we do get to choose what we do afterwards. For D. Mitry, the writer-director of My True Fairytale, the sudden shock of losing his daughter in a car crash meant a completely new chapter in his life — one set on reviving her through his work. Full of denial of the event, Mitry struggled to rid his mind and eyes of his daughter, seeing her everywhere he went, but took this as inspiration rather than tragedy. Despite its valiant and touching message, the film never establishes its focus or develops its characters, leaving nothing but unsatisfactory closures.

My True Fairytale starts off as heavy-hearted as its origin story. When a car full of teenagers takes a wrong turn into a lake, the driver Angie (Emma Kennedy) suddenly goes missing. And though her friends all survived with minimal damage, no one has any clue where she could be. Those affected the most are of course her family members — her father Dean (Darri Ingolfsson), grandfather Martin (Bruce Davison) and grandmother Sylvia (Joanna Cassidy) — who, among Angie’s disappearance, have their own issues to fix.

Driven by his own experiences, Mitry opts to tell this story from the perspective of those closest to Angie, rather than Angie herself. In a premise much like that of “13 Reasons Why,” Angie is rarely seen on screen. Instead, the story is placed in the hands of her friends and family as it tracks the ripple effects of her disappearance. Conceptually, this idea is fantastic. As we’ve seen in movies like Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019), the familial complexities and emotions that reveal themselves during times of loss truly are telling of peoples’ character. Yet, the overwhelming number of storylines only serves to dilute their emotional impact.

After a necessary 25 minutes spent setting up storylines en masse — that ends with a confusing altercation between her father and her grandparents — Angie appears unannounced in her father’s apartment, ready to help save his life from crumbling to the ground. Distraught over his failing relationship, failed career and worsening familial relationships, he’s at a crossroads and needs direction. Thankfully Angie is here to help, and agrees to help him if and only if he follows her every step of the way. And with a bit of hesitancy, Dean accepts.

This mirrored storyline soon becomes the real focus of the film as students and their family members forget the loss of Angie and instead, try to repair the destruction it has brought them. Just as she helps Dean, she helps others, and with a little extra effort, reminds them of what’s important: love and family. Those who were falsely accused make reparations; those suffering intense parenting confront it; and those who need a second chance get one.

The film’s shortcomings do lessen as it approaches its end. Past events become clearer as we’re given more time and insight into Angie and her disappearance. Relationships that were previously unexplained slowly get to a place of believability. And you finally begin to understand the larger context of the overall story. But it’s a little too late.

My True Fairytale was born out of genuine emotion, and thus has a lot to say, but its strongest moments are undermined by its rushed beginning. The story lacks a starting point — something to establish reality before the big event — leaving the audience with strange characters and scattered explanations that don’t come together until much later. Mitry’s ambitious story juggling proves to be too much for his debut.

Summary
Though full of heartwarming ideas, My True Fairytale suffers from scattered plots and underdeveloped storylines that soften any of its emotional blows.
30 %
Unsatisfactory closure
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