26 June 2020 22:34
In recent years, Sandén said that she had been focused on her pop music—at one point aspiring to become "the Swedish Taylor Swift." But when she was invited back into the studio for Eurovision—particularly to work on the the soaring, catchy track "Húsavík"—she found herself channeling the singer she originally intended to become, as a Eurovision-obsessed kid practicing high notes in her basement. "I was a weird kid and I was bullied, so I would go to my basement and I practiced my vocal skills," said Sandén. I just saw stars twinkling, like gold and glitter coming from the roof. Laughing, Sandén said, "When I look back on it, I realize those stars and glittering is just lack of oxygen in my brain. When she recorded "Húsavík"—Sigrit's triumphant ballad—Sandén incorporated that very high note, the same star-inducing crescendo she practiced in her basement and used in her first Eurovision song.
"When I saw the movie, I got goosebumps," said Sandén, of hearing her voice come out of McAdams's mouth on that Eurovision stage. According to Netflix, Sandén's vocals were mixed with McAdams's own voice for the tracks. In a separate phone call with Vanity Fair, Eurovision's music producer, Savan Kotecha, said that Sandén and McAdams's "tones worked so well together" that, in playing back certain tracks, he had a hard time differentiating between the vocals. But Sandén, who has seen the film, said she only noticed McAdams's voice in a scene in which the actor was singing to herself in front of a piano. Asked if she thought the vocals had been mixed, Sandén sounded skeptical: "If they say so, maybe that's the truth.
In that regard, Eurovision Song Contest delivers, albeit with diminishing returns. But he isn't the real shining star of Eurovision Song Contest. That would be Rachel McAdams, who, with help from a good-natured script by Ferrell and Andrew Steele, elevates what could have been a retrograde love interest role into a protagonist worth rooting for. Sigrit and Lars arrive in Edinburgh for the Eurovision Song Contest. Ferrell and McAdams play Lars and Sigrit, two halves of a musical duo from small-town Iceland.
Like its heroes, Eurovision Song Contest gets off to a rocky start. In the early going, much of the film's humor seems rooted in broad stereotypes of Icelanders, and while the film never quite crosses the line into meanness, one does wonder how actual Icelanders might feel about being painted as a bunch of aggressively quirky weirdos. By the time Eurovision reached its climax, I was bursting with so much Icelandic pride I'd almost forgotten I am not, in fact, Icelandic. A grotesque stroke of luck gets Lars and Sigrit into the show, and before they know it, they're being whisked off to Edinburgh for the Olympics of pop music. Their entry into this dizzying, dazzling world is where Eurovision Song Contest starts to pick up. Lars and Sigrit are wide-eyed as they wander city streets and meet the competition, including a snake-hipped Russian named Alexander Lemtov (a scene-stealing Dan Stevens) and a seductive Greek diva named Mita (Melissanthi Mahut) — and wider-eyed still as Lemtov's pre-competition rager turns into a "song-a-long," a joyous explosion of vocal talent that serves as both the centerpiece of the movie and an excuse to feature real Eurovision contestants from years past. Colleagues of mine who are way more into Eurovision than I am tell me Eurovision is full of references like these — cameos by former participants, performances modeled on past shows, in-jokes about the international politics of the votes. Eurovision Song Contest does all the work for you of making you care about the competition, even if you never had before. For starters, the songs it delivers are straight-up bangers — Fire Saga's "Double Trouble" wouldn't sound out of place on pop radio, give or take a Will Ferrell vocal — and the spectacles accompanying them are sharp and sleek. But McAdams gives such an openhearted performance as Sigrit that Eurovision Song Contest starts to feel more like her story than Lars's. By the time the competition reached its climax, I was bursting with so much Icelandic pride that I'd almost forgotten I am not, in fact, Icelandic. But such is the power of Eurovision Song Contest. But leave it to McAdams to turn what started out looking like another familiar Will Ferrell vehicle into a showcase for her own underappreciated talents. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is now streaming on Netflix. In Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga, Rachel McAdams is Sigrit Ericksdottir, an Icelandic school teacher with an angelic voice and a crush on longtime friend and collaborator Lars Erickssong. The A.V. Club talked to McAdams about that process, as well as her relationship to the actual Eurovision Song Contest going into the movie. We also talked about her tips for a really great lip sync (McAdams doesn't entirely sing her parts in the film), and how hours of real-life singing resulted in the actor losing some of her vocal fortitude. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a musical rom com starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, streaming on Netflix.