Tale of Tales (Matteo Garrone, 2015)

Director: Matteo Garrone
Actors: Alba Rohrwacher, Bebe Cave, Christian Lees, Guillaume Delaunay, Hayley Carmichael, John C. Reilly, Jonah Lees, Massimo Ceccherini, Salma Hayek, Shirley Henderson, Stacy Martin, Toby Jone, Vincent Cassel
Screenwriter: Edoardo Albinati, Massimo Gaudioso, Matteo Garrone, Ugo Chiti
Composer: Alexandre Desplat
Director of Photography: Peter Suschitzky
Editor: Marco Spoletini
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Distributor: Le Pacte
Release Date: July 1, 2015
Original title: The story of the tales (Il racconto dei racconti)

Synopsis : Once upon a time there were three neighboring kingdoms where kings and queens, princes and princesses reigned in marvelous castles: a fornicator and libertine king, another captivated by a strange animal, a queen obsessed with his desire for a child …

Wizards and fairies, formidable monsters, ogre and old washerwomen, acrobats and courtiers are the heroes of this free interpretation of the famous tales of Giambattista Basile.


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Abracadabra. Then suddenly arises, in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival, a singular Italian production which expands the arch of films offered by the country for selection, alongside Paolo Sorrentino and Nanni Morretti.

A fantastic story set in an imagined early Renaissance, the film by Matteo Garrone (previously Jury Prize at Cannes for Reality) is as surprising as it is confusing. By cultivating the storytelling tradition, less present in European cinema in recent years, Tale of Tales(everything is in the title) sticks to an ultimately simple concept, mixing several more or less magical destinies within his universe.

Undoubtedly imperfect, even sometimes a little annoying as a result of its somewhat vain character, the approach is nonetheless rather touching for the spectator prone to wonder.

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In a few shots, we find a scale that we had perhaps not seen in fifteen years, The profession of arms of Ermanno Orni. The introduction is rather striking in that it is not necessarily easy to introduce a fantastic “costume film” (as we used to say): we quickly get lost in the slightly vulgar decorum or paraphrase preexisting visuals, as Christophe Gans, unfortunately, did in Beauty and the Beast.

All the more so when the work combines several destinies, several small universes different in their own way, a device often synonymous with heterogeneity between the segments. If this is not the case here, if no part particularly floats over another, this may also be the crux of the main problem in Tale of Tales.

What more does the film have to tell apart from its very beautiful images and a rather classic update (perhaps agreed?) Of the moral of the tale adapting Giambattista Basile? Is it just an invitation to get lost in this fantasy universe?

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If you take it that way, then why not. Because the adventure is intoxicating, carried by a group of well-cared-for actors with touching characters. Once again, moreover, we see the full potential of Salma Hayek, for whom we will always regret not seeing her enjoy a slightly brighter filmography. And in all the details of the film teem with ideas, more or less elegantly exploited by Garrone, for the remarkable blow director.

With the very careful digital photography of Peter Suschitzky (whose talent you no longer need to praise with such filmography), bringing all the relief of the universe to life, allies, for the beauty of the form, the composition of an inspired and melodious Alexandre Desplat.

So many parameters that makeTale of Tales a pleasant cinematic experience. But once again, we find ourselves saying that all the formal qualities of Garrone’s film are perhaps conditioned by the relative emptiness of the footage and its brisk rhythm in the last act going in circles.

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Finally, should we retain from Tale of Tales a kind of formal style exercise with the qualities and limits that the term implies? Although the finding may be a little unfair given what the film offers, constantly generous and well-intentioned, the shortcut is still tempting.

While most of the sympathy that we can have for Garrrone’s film comes essentially from the singularity of its production in a country which knows, to say the least, a complicated cultural situation, we can always have fun comparing the moral of the tale about noble castes with the context current country.

An ambitious approach to support, therefore, by hoping for the imminent renaissance of a cinema that once doubtless was the richest and most diverse in the world.

Nicolas Gilli

Hi, I'm Nicholas Gilli, I'm a blogger who is very much interested in blogging about film-making gadgets. I have experience as a cinematographer in the film industry for more than 15 years. My blogs would comprise of articles about film making gadgets and guides on how to use them. Even if you are a beginner you will learn a lot about cinematography here. Happy reading.

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