Tale of Tales: Film Review

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“What the hell did I just watch?!” may be the first thing that comes to mind when leaving a screening of Tale of Tales. It is weird, weird, weird and my mind was totally blown trying to make sense of it.

Tale of Tales, based on stories from a 17th century Italian fairytale collection, is divided into three separate parts. First, we follow the Queen (Salma Hayek), who will do anything to fulfil her desire to have a baby. She gets pregnant, but a virgin does too and they have identical children who become great friends, but the Queen wants to permanently separate them. The second tale is of a different King (Vincent Cassel) who tries to seduce an old crone he mistakes for an attractive young woman. And lastly, there is another King (Toby Jones) who loves a flea (yep!) and grows it until it becomes huge. He then sets up a tournament where the winner gets his daughter’s hand in marriage.

I know that the weird stuff is supposed to be a metaphor for something else, but I’m the kind of viewer who doesn’t look for deeper meaning straight away. I take things at face value. So if I see a man feeding a flea so it becomes larger than a dog, that’s all I see. I’m not trying to decipher the philosophical meaning (I needed Wikipedia’s help with that). I’m just thinking WTF, WTF, WTF. I laughed A LOT out of sheer disbelief, amazement and from feeling uncomfortable about having no idea what’s going on. Besides that, this fantasy horror has some truly gross bits – it is bloody, disgusting and makes you feel a bit yukky.

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All of the stories took far too long to go anywhere but when they did, they actually became interesting (once you’ve got past the weirdness). I was fed up for a long time because it was just bizarre moment after bizarre moment without any sense of plot or character development, but then it actually gets moving and SOMETHING HAPPENS (yay!) I liked the identical boys and wanted them to escape the Queen, I wanted something better for the Princess and felt sorry for the old crone’s sister. You do eventually get invested in the stories, but you just wish they would get a wriggle on.

So I wouldn’t choose to watch this again or recommend it for others because it is hard work and does require a tremendous amount of patience and suspension of disbelief. I clearly wasn’t mature or literary/academic enough for this movie because I seemed to laugh way more than everyone else. It is so weird and far too long, which is a shame, because the stories are actually pretty decent under the disguise of all the madness.

In cinemas Friday 17th June

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