Directed by Tonislav Hristov
Written by Kaarle Aho, Tonislav Hristov, and Lubomir Tsvetkov
Featuring Veera Lapinkoski, Slava Doycheva
Running time 1 hour 27 minutes
by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
Life can be cruel.
Sometimes it is nice to get away. For some, this may be a vacation to a tropical island sunning on the beach with a fruity cocktail in a hollowed out pineapple donning a mini paper umbrella. For Veera, who goes by V, her method of escape doesn’t involve airfare. Instead, it may require medieval garb or a styrofoam sword. When life gets hard, sometimes you gotta LARP (live-action role playing).
The Magic Life of V shows how V experienced anything but the ideal childhood. Growing up in Finland with an emotionally abusive alcoholic father, her younger years seemed grim. As she describes it in the film, she spent her time with two main thoughts, actively thinking she would die and actively wishing to die. The documentary is told over the course of five years in a cinema verite style. During the 87 minute runtime you follow her on visits to the therapist, witness interactions with her brother and experience her life of LARPING.
Although V may not have experienced the physical abuse from her father, her brother was not spared. To make matters worse, V’s brother, Ville,f had suffered brain damage, when he was only one year of age, due to a high fever. This caused him to have a life of bullying, confusion and what appeared to be depression. It is shown that V cares deeply for her brother, but also experiences much stress and guilt about their past and his current situation. Along with all this, her mother seems to be absent.
The LARPING allowed her to cope with these feelings. LARPING for eleven years, V has found the characters serve as a way to escape, not just her reality, but also her feelings. When she becomes someone else she does not have to address her issues or problems. At one point, she even recognizes this and wonders what life would be like if she could simply LARP out of enjoyment rather than feeling the need to.
I may not LARP but I could relate to the idea of tricking yourself in order to avoid the truth. This is brought up in the film by one of Veera’s friends when she states, “You try to keep the lie for other people, to not hurt them. This isn’t good for anyone.” As I took it, it is often easier to live a fake life rather than find the strength to face the real one.
Watching the story, I felt as if I was being given a trail of breadcrumbs. Each scene had a tiny tidbit of information providing insight into the various characters that you meet. By the end of the film I felt as I knew V and really wanted to give her a hug.
What may seem as just a movie about LARPING is so much more. It is about learning to deal with your issues head-on and having the courage to do so. Sometimes, in order to do this we have to become someone else first, which may require a velvet cape and a styrofoam sword.