Ren Faire

Ren Faire

A fantastic, hyperreal succession drama about the country’s biggest Renaissance fair

7.5

TV Show

United States of America
English
Documentary
2024

TLDR

You can tell the Safdie brothers had their hands on this.

What it's about

Follows Texas Renaissance Faire founder George Coulam as he decides who among his colorful, competitive employees is most fit to succeed his throne when he steps down.

The take

The inherent drama of succession stories has always made for great, entertaining TV. You only have to look at Game of Thrones, Dynasty, Yellowstone, and, well, Succession to know that. With Ren Faire, director Lance Oppenheim (Some Kind of Heaven, Spermworld) ups the ante by following the real and ongoing power struggle between the Renaissance fair employees clawing and scratching their way to the top. They’re so animated and dead-set on inheriting a literal kingdom that Oppenheim and his team hardly have to do anything to color this tale. And yet, color it they do, to wonderfully cinematic and comedic effect. The employees are (willingly) dubbed “Lord of Corn” and “The Fairy Godmother,” while Coulam is of course the longstanding King. You get the sense that their feuds are heightened in the presence of the cameras, but feel entertained nonetheless. To cap things off, the documentary is shot using grainy unfocused film, sometimes edited in the trippy way low-budget 60’s films used to look so that it matches the surreal reality of the fair. The story could’ve been interesting on its own, but the artful and intentional way it’s told elevates it.

What stands out

The editing, which is a mix of fly-in-the-wall intimacy and, as Variety’s J. Kim Murphy puts it, choreographed reality.

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