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“Tale of Tales” is the rare collection of fairy tales for adults

Tale of Tales 2016
Even though fairy tales themselves have often been dark throughout the years, the translation to film from book form has almost exclusively been directed towards young audiences. Occasionally we get more adult themed fairy tales, but they tend to be few and far between. Lost a bit in the Tribeca shuffle for me was the release last weekend of the new movie from Matteo Garrone, the fantasy film of sorts Tale of Tales. It’s a real unique flick, having debuted last year at the Cannes Film Festival before finally now in theatrical release, as of the weekend. It’s interesting enough that I wanted to make a quick mention of it, as it’s really something else.

The film is, more or less, a collection of a few fairy tales, just given a different spin than usual. There’s three main ones, including the obsessive quest of the Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) to bear a child. That will take quite a toll on her husband, the King (John C. Reilly). Then, there is the King of Highhills (Toby Jones) becoming obsessed with a giant Flea, leading him to ignore his daughter, with less than pleasing results for all involved. There’s also the two mysterious sisters who almost accidentally attract the attention and passion of a king (Vincent Cassel), with everyone crossing paths here and there. Garrone directs and wrote the adaptation of Giambattista Basile’s book with the help of Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, and Massimo Gaudioso. In addition to the aforementioned cast, we also have Hayley Carmichael, Bebe Cave, Jessie Cave, Shirley Henderson, Christian Lees, Jonah Lees, and Stacy Martin, among others. They all do their part in serving the vision of Garrone.

This isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch, but what I liked best is the weird vibe you get. This really does feel like a fairy tale, from the look to the feel. If you weren’t paying attention to the actual content, you might be able to confuse it with something far more family friendly. The attention to detail is just that good. The performances are solid too, but it’s really the direction from Garrone that manages to make this odd proposition work. It’s too long at well over two hours, but it doesn’t wear out its welcome, so that’s something. A lesser filmmaker might not have made it all sustain, that’s for sure.

Awards wise, it’s probably a real stretch to assume that Tale of Tales will manage to do anything on the precursor circuit, but I suppose anything is possible. If voters do take to this fairy tale, look for IFC Films to try and make something happen. A small campaign in Best Picture, Best Director (for Garrone), Best Supporting Actor (for Cassel, Jones, or Reilly), Best Supporting Actress (for Hayek), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Albinati, Chiti, Garrone, and Gaudioso), and Best Production Design. My best guess is that nothing happens for it, but hey…at this point, nothing is out of the running just yet.

Overall, Tale of Tales is something unlike anything else in the marketplace currently, so that’s no small potatoes. Getting an adult fairy tale in theaters isn’t an often occurrence, so if it sounds intriguing to you, this is a film to really go and support. Again, it’s not perfect, but being unique goes a long way these days, doesn’t it? If you like Garrone’s previous work, this English language debut of his should be more of the same. Give this one a shot regardless, as it really does stand out from the rest of the cinematic pack. Take a look, you might very well be glad that you did…

Be sure to check out Tale of Tales, in theaters now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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