Director João Pedro Rodrigues has created the ultimate piece of entertainment in Will-o’-the-Wisp, a comedic porn musical with a social conscience. A prince wants to be a fireman against his royal parents’ wishes. But the young lad sticks to his guns, and takes life by the balls. Give or take a pun or two.
As long as images of bare male genitals don’t bother the viewer, this is a comical break from reality, though it does touch on topical issues in our messed up society. It references colonialism, racism, Covid – all the hot topics from the past few years. Climate change and returning to nature are prominent themes, but then again, so is breaking out into song. And in one particular scene, a contemporary dance choreography.
At times, the atmosphere feels equally familiar and foreign. The prince’s family dinner discussions seem to occur in some parallel universe. A near-future that looks strangely like the past, with elaborate candelabra and Victorian (yet not) architecture.
The queer reference points are strong throughout. After the first few establishing scenes which give background to the prince’s motivation, it is very obvious we are watching a gay – very gay – film. Only about an hour long, the playful and absurd nature of it is certainly more for an adult audience with at least some awareness of LGBTQ+ life. That said, it is filled with lush sets, forest sing-a-longs, and a script written in rather poetic language. The ensemble of all these seemingly mismatched parts results in a surprisingly cohesive fantasy world somewhere between the present and the future.
Will-o’-the-Wisp – 9:35 PM JST, November 1st, 2022 (Please note, screening times are in Japan Standard Time)