This is a fairy tale. Not that kind of fairy tale- do not take kids to see this. This is the kind of fairy tale I imagine would happen if Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm smoked marijuana (or crack) and then just called out ridiculous ideas until some of them stuck. I’ve always been a fan of ridiculous ideas if well implemented so this was a treat for me.
The Stats- Year: 2015 Length: 133 mins Director/Producer: Matteo Garrone Who’s in it?: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, Bebe Cave, Jonah & Christian Lees, John C. Reilly, Hayley Carmichael and Stacy Martin
Tale Of Tales is based on The Pentamerone, a book of fables written by Giambattista Basile in the 17th century (I’ve never heard of him either). Garrone manages to smoothly interweave three stories – The Enchanted Doe, The Flea and The Flayed Old Lady-to create a two-hour fantasy of gory, comedic nightmares. The imagination it must take to make a production like this believable should not be underrated at all. There are few things funnier or more fake than watching a grown man nurture and become completely enthralled with a flea but you look at a balding, nervous (Toby Jones) and think- If anyone was going to do this, it would be him.
You can guess what kind of night it’s going to be within the first 20 minutes when the Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) eats an almost rare monster heart in a bid to banish her childlessness- On the advice of a complete stranger no less. Hayek is brilliantly convincing and regal throughout, no mean feat especially since every time I see her, I remember Gotye and a table dance- I’m sorry but this will always be my favourite Salma. Love that guitar riff, it goes with any mood. Digressing here. The ridiculously specific instructions from the stranger made me die laughing but I won’t spoil it for you.
The youngsters put in entertaining performances, perhaps the most endearing being the relationship played out between ill-fated brothers Elias and Jonah(Lees and Lees). Bebe Cave plays stroppy well enough for you to wonder if it’s her real character but you cant help cheering her own as the movie progresses, maybe my favourite character? I’m not sure, it’s hard to pick with this carousel of wild, absurd storylines. Vincent Cassell is a comical disaster as the perennially horny King of Strongcliff –could anyone really run a country with their priorities in the same order as his? He seems to have been the perfect actor for this role. I don’t know what this says about him. His exploits with an old hag (brilliantly played by Hayley Carmichael) give a whole new meaning to ‘the morning after the night before’
Often during the film, I was a surprised at how easily how I’d been drawn into something so irrational and grotesque. I did feel better hearing the fifty plus year olds a few seats away also dying of laughter or fainting from terror at ten minute intervals. You will probably spend a fair amount of time either cringing (The King Of Strongcliff’s randiness at the offer of a glimpse of a single finger is laughably embarrassing) or hiding and peeping through your fingers. The ease with gore on screen seems sensible when you consider that Garrone was also responsible for Gomorrah.
Visually, this is beautiful to look at with its medieval backdrop and the ghouly looking characters added a hint of the surreal. At times, it was even like looking at an oil painting (one that keeps moving). It’s everything a Cannes candidate should be – daring and completely captures your imagination which I loved because so few films can do that once you start paying bills and accepting 6am wake up calls with no snooze.
Should you watch it?: If you never thought you could laugh and be completely horrified at the same time, I suggest you see this for a new experience . I did come away thoroughly impressed. I will say, it gets quite dark at times…..
Check it out: http://www.taleoftalesfilm.com
Also check out: I’ve never really seen anything quite like this, to be honest. I want to say Snow White And The Huntsmen but that’s nowhere near as good as this.
Article photo credit: La Croix