Posted Apr 05 2016

Tale Of Tales - This Fairy Tale Movie Pretty Much Rocks In A Dark, Absurd Place

Dir: Matteo Garrone

Starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson

Gamorrah man Garrone strings together a series of classic fairy tales, loosely based on those of 17th century Euro-Grimm (for want of a better phrase) Giambattista Basile. But, in a age when the Hollywood equivalent is The Huntsman, they’re actually quite impressive.

Three stories are intertwined, but not necessarily connected, though all focusing on kings and queens, and see Salma Hayek getting pregnant via dragon heart, Vincent Cassel marrying an old hag in the disguise of youth, and Toby Jones rather foolishly spending too much time with an overgrown performing flea, and then marrying his princess daughter off to an ogre.

It’s beautiful to look at certainly – both designed and shot with at least two strong eyes – and for the most part has a delightful understanding of the Grimm nature of such tales, coupled with a strong sense of absurdity, bordering on black comedy at times. The cast – which also (briefly) includes Reilly and a spot on brilliant Shirley Henderson as the ugly sister left behind – are generally really on the money.

Yes, it’s uneven in places, Toby Jones and his flea are an underserved adjunct and it really struggles to find an ending. But in an age when Hollywood is defining the fairy tale movie with the unworthy likes of The Huntsman (yes, we went back to that well), this is – whilst not likely to be to everyone’s taste – a collection of tales rather well told.


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