By Leah Rozen
November 03, 1997 12:00 PM

Harvey Keitel, Peter O’Toole

When they fly, the winged fairies here look just like Rainbow Brite, that whirring children’s toy that was so popular (and so annoying) a few years back. The fairies are the main draw in this small, sentimental family film based on the historical case of two little English girls who, in 1917, took photographs of what they claimed were fairies in their garden. A heated national debate ensued over the existence of fairies and whether the photos had been faked, attracting such eminent participants as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (O’Toole), who was the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and magician Harry Houdini (Keitel). The movie makes it clear that, in an England worn down by the losses of World War I, weary adults were as desperate to believe in fairies as the girls. Mel Gibson, whose Icon Productions coproduced the film, has a fleeting cameo at its end. (PG)