Tale of Tales: a baroque fairy-tale full of gilt and gore

Tale of Tales
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Tale of Tales is The Brothers Grimm as Terry Gilliam should have made it.

Inspired by Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone — from which the film gets its name — and directed by Gomorrah’s Matteo Garone, it weaves together three archetypal fairytales: the jovial king (John C. Reilly) and bitter queen (Selma Hayek) longing for a child; one kindly yet capricious ruler (Toby Jones), his romantic daughter Violet (Bebe Cave), the flea and the ogre; and the two crones (Hayley Carmichael and Shirley Henderson) who inadvertently mislead a lusty prince (Vincent Cassel).

Shot on location around Italy, sumptuously designed, and with a suitably fantastical score from Alexandre Desplat, Tale of Tales is baroque, bloody, alluring and repugnant.  The film might not have much by the way of substance, nor is Matteo the first filmmaker to turn his hand to fable — fellow Italian Pasolini did so with his Trilogy of Life back in the ‘70s — but when the scenery is this sumptuous and the monsters this grotesque, it’s hard to begrudge a little fancifulness.

Author: robertmwallis

Graduate of Royal Holloway and the London Film School. Founder of Of All The Film Sites; formerly Of All The Film Blogs. Formerly Film & TV Editor of The Metropolist and Official Sidekick at A Place to Hang Your Cape. Co-host of The Movie RobCast podcast (formerly Electric Shadows) and member of the Online Film Critics Society.

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