Director Matteo Garrone sumptuously depicts gothic stories in Tale of Tales. Both amusing and horrifying, Garrone captures the essence of the genre.
In one of the kingdoms, the Queen is desperate for a child, and will sacrifice anything to achieve this. In another, a King becomes obsessed by a flea. In a third, a King is enchanted by a beautiful voice, unaware of where it comes from…
Tale of Tales features three individual strands, which director and co-writer Matteo Garrone cuts between in lengthy sequences. Each of the stories concentrate on a different aspect. Nonetheless, there is an overarching theme of desire which runs through the film.
Each of the stories has an element of mystery to them. It is difficult to predict the outcome, which makes Tale of Tales an engaging film. There is some slack on the film; some of the sequences could have been trimmed slightly to keep momentum. Nevertheless, the stories themselves are intriguing. Moreover, the film has a mesmeric quality thanks in large part to its visuals.
Art direction in Tale of Tales is superb. The use of colour is striking, producing engorged imagery. Cinematography is also great; the film is distinct in its appearance. Sound design in Tale of Tales in suitably effective.
Performances in Garrone’s film are good overall. Toby Jones delights as the King of Highhills. Shirley Henderson is also memorable as Imma. Vincent Cassel appears to be having fun in an outlandish role, and Salma Hayek delivers a commanding performance.
The stories exhibited do not offer the cautionary redemption of many fairy tales. But this is Tale of Tales‘ charm; the film shines a light on the grotesque, inviting the audience to view the unfolding spectacle. Tale of Tales is a must-see for gothic fans, and should also enchant casual viewers.