I had heard Matteo Garrone’s GOMORRAH was great, but with my usual untimeliness had never gotten around to seeing it, but TALE OF TALES proved impossible to resist. I just liked the sound of it — it felt like he’d made a film for me.
And my response is weird — most of what I have to say about the film would be nitpicking criticisms —
It’s based on three separate stories, intercut, intersecting at start and finish — it would have been easy to make them interrelate more — none of the stories is full satisfying — the dialogue is ugly, neither fairy-tale archaic nor naturalistic, and it’s full of awkward modernisms like “disrespect” used as a verb — intercutting the stories means it takes forever for any of them to develop —
But oh! this film is GORGEOUS.
Also nicely acted, with a fascinating multinational cast. The director, admirably, doesn’t care that Salma Hayek is Mexican. So what? Vincent Cassel is French.
But it’s the gorgeousness that carries it. The fairy tales all develop in intriguing ways and throw out many opportunities for surreal, visceral imagery (a giant flea; an ogre’s cave; a sea monster’s heart served on a platter; an old woman glueing her skin back in flaps to give herself a medieval body-lift (an interesting audience reaction here: the women all laughed, we gentlemen maintained a reticent silence).
“[Producer] Jeremy Thomas has such great taste in films,” said Fiona.
“And filmmakers,” I added.