This is a love letter to Alexander Lemtov.
There is a lot to like about Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, but Dan Stevens‘ performance as Russian Eurovision contestant Alexander Lemtov is next-level great. Yes, technically Eurovision stars Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as an earnest Icelandic music group named Fire Saga seeking fame and renown at the Eurovision Song Content. But really, when we get down to it, the character of Lemtov and Stevens’ performance of the lovable hunk are what make this recent Netflix release really, uh, sing.
I’m not sure at what point during Eurovision‘s two-hour runtime I fell for Lemtov. There are too many good, swoon-worthy moments. Was it the first time I heard him sing “Lion in Love” — a certified banger for all my bass pop stars out there — during dress rehearsal? Was it when I saw Lemtov’s incredible (and incredibly well-endowed) Greek statues at his obscenely plush Edinburgh mansion? Maybe it was when he tried to be cute and woo Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) during the house party while wearing the hella stylish jacket pictured stage right? Was it when Sigrit woke up in Lemtov’s bed only to discover he braided her hair for six hours and did not, as we might fear, take advantage of her? Or was it when he sat with Sigrit on the couch after Fire Saga’s disastrous semifinals performance to make sure his friend had moral support?
Don’t know. Don’t care. Maybe it was all of these moments and then every moment in between. All I know is Lemtov is the superhero of Summer 2020 and I will only be thinking about him for the rest of the year. Additionally, I will be blasting “Lion of Love” at 11 from the hours of 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day until December 31 because it, in fact, slaps. And if you don’t believe me, I invite you to listen to a taste this killer tune below. Stevens may not actually be singing “Lion of Love” (the credit goes to Erik Mjönes on that front), but he is performing his ass off. To this, I can only salute him with every fiber of my being.
Lemtov is an unproblematic king in Eurovision, a man arguably more devoted to supporting someone he’s competing against in a beloved and prominent international song competition than actually winning himself. He’s got style, he’s got panache, and his love of the craft is palpable. Frankly, Lemtov is the superhero we deserve and need in what is otherwise a summer movie season wasteland. I shudder to think what I’d be watching (or hardcore stanning) if Eurovision hadn’t hit Netflix earlier this month.
There’s a good team of folks who can take some credit for making Lemtov the accidental breakout star of Eurovision. A tip of the cap should go to Eurovision co-writers Ferrell and Andrew Steele. We should also give a salute to Dobkin, who was able to mold and guide Stevens’ performance into the thing of beauty it ended up being in the final cut. But we must take some time to really appreciate everything Stevens is doing in Eurovision.
It would be so easy to take Lemtov too far into “hammy hot boy” territory. Stevens is a good-lookin’ guy and could easily turn his charm into a one-note performance. Instead, he puts his great comedic timing to good use while utilizing his skill as an actor to make Lemtov a fully-realized, three-dimensional guy who isn’t afraid to get in touch with his wild, sweet, flashy side. Furthermore, Stevens gamely tackling Lemtov and elevating the performance out of a stiff comedy archetype is a testament to his abilities as an actor and an endorsement for getting cast in even more comedies down the line.
What I wouldn’t give to see Stevens weaponize his handsomeness and eschew traditional leading man roles for more comedies and out-of-the-box projects. He’s already proven he can work well outside of, say, swooning period melodramas or live-action Disney musicals stuffed with pomp and circumstance. If you’ve seen his work in FX’s Legion, The Guest, or Colossal, you know Stevens isn’t afraid to toe the line between risk and reward as he wades into new territory as an actor. And while it could be cool to see Stevens return to the darker territory of these aforementioned titles (He will, in fact, in the soon-to-be-released Dave Franco-directed thriller The Rental.), Stevens really needs to sign on for more comedies whenever possible. He has what it takes.
If you take away anything from this, it should be three very important things. First, you should watch Eurovision on Netflix if you haven’t already. Second, you should definitely keep your eye on Stevens’ Lemtov; there is just too much goodness on the screen and you must marvel at it. And finally, this is perhaps the most important takeaway of them all: We need a Lemtov-focused Eurovision sequel ASAP.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is now available to stream on Netflix. For more, check out Steve Weintraub’s interview with director David Dobkin and Matt Goldberg’s review of the Netflix flick.