My True Fairytale functions first and foremost as a cathartic outing for D.Mitry’s feature debut as a writer-director, who made the film to be closer with his daughter Alyssa following her death in a tragic car accident. The film attempts to find the good and heartwarming amidst the horrible grief that plagues its characters. It’s a labor of love, earnest in its themes of love and light existing beyond the death of a loved one and how their memory remains an imprint on the heart no matter their passing. Its heart is in the right place and it reaches a few uplifting peaks, but My True Fairytale is uneven as it finds its way towards a happy ending.
Following a car accident, Angie Goodwin (Emma Kennedy) vanishes without a trace. Her friends, however, survive the incident, walking away with a few cuts and bruises. Angie’s disappearance leaves her family — grandmother Sylvia (Joanna Cassidy), grandfather Martin (Bruce Davison), and her estranged father Dean (Darri Ingolfsson) — worry for her safety and grapple with the fact she may be gone forever. When Angie shows up in her father’s apartment in Los Angeles, the mystery gets more complicated. However, Angie doesn’t seem ruffled, concerned only with giving her loved ones some happiness.
Angie makes it her mission to help her family and friends, attempting to repair Dean’s relationship with Renee (Taylor Cole, whose performance is a standout, rich and emotionally effective). The father-daughter pair bond in a way they hadn’t really done before, with Angie hoping to bring him some closure. She does the same for the rest of her friends, each of whom have their own personal issues — be it with their parents or otherwise. Angie’s plight is sweet and thoughtful, especially as she’s considerate by thinking of her loved ones’ feelings over her own. In this vein, she’s very much a savior who is out to, as she states early on in the film, be a superhero and save the world. Angie is essentially the thread holding the story together and that’s an important aspect considering My True Fairytale is meant to honor D.Mitry’s late daughter.
However, as kind and heartfelt as Angie’s gestures are, My True Fairytale is haphazardly executed. It takes a while for the story to get going, with the film’s direction and focus thrown in various directions that don’t quite come together cohesively. The kinks in the story are somewhat smoothed out about halfway through, but there are several characters and storylines that are underdeveloped from the start and never build towards anything. The film also grapples with the mystery of Angie’s disappearance and potential death. Her friends survive the car accident and she’s nowhere to be found in the aftermath, with the local police not doing very much to investigate where she might have gone or what happened to her.
The mystery of it all is surely meant to entice the audience, but it doesn’t bring much of anything to the narrative and would have been better without it altogether. My True Fairytale gets better when it chooses to focus on the strained relationship between Angie and her father. What’s more, the remaining characters’ subplots are underwhelming and largely unnecessary by comparison. Andre (BJ Mitchell) and Sarah (Morgan Lindholm) are in a deeply loving relationship, but they’re constantly forced apart by Sarah’s obviously racist mother. However, the film barely touches upon these issues, which makes it a wonder why they were included if there wasn’t going to be any further exploration.
To be sure, My True Fairytale has resounding and touching moments. As the film nears its end, its poignancy sharply stands out. In its most endearing and heartwarming moments, it rises above a fragmented storyline that is often as overly saccharine as it is certainly cathartic. It’s a passion project that, while evoking emotion in the wake of grief, could have used some more editing and fine-tuning for a better and smoother journey.
My True Fairytale is in theaters and on demand April 9, 2021. The film is 86 minutes long and is not yet rated.