Friday, 28 August 2015


Engaging escapism from Matteo Garrone, a filmmaker whose admirable desire to depart from his own formula bears the same force as that formula once did, so abrupt is this departure. He approaches Tale of Tales with the same purity of style that one expects from Garrone, and suggestions that he puts said style to similar purposes here than before, though the effect is strikingly different. It's also simply striking, as Tale of Tales is a dazzling fantasy, a sensory feast fit for any of the film's royalty. This is the film's greatest asset, even if it's often stunted by lapses in quality and squandered on a project whose constituent parts barely even seem to be intended to coalesce into a whole. Three separate stories, each of them additionally fragmented perspectively, are edited together in a manner that works in terms of pace (the mythical grandeur of each of them better served by the 2-hour running time than were they isolated and their lengths abbreviated), but not in terms of narrative nor of tone. Therein, Garrone fumbles plot details - one story concludes with a pair of seemingly straightforward yet utterly indecipherable scenes - and indulges in overly-ornate dialogue, thereby ruining potentially fine performances from an able cast - one tale involving two elderly women and a besotted king in particular benefits from strong work by Hayley Carmichael and Shirley Henderson. But all serve a higher power, and one that redeems Tale of Tales in just about every shot: its stylistic stature. Garrone's visual schemes are allegorically moot and thematically empty, but they're nonetheless spectacular. He recreates a visual version of the past set fantastically askew, captured in some of the finest cinematography Peter Suschitzky has ever produced, decorated with stunning production and costume designs, and adorned with Alexandre Desplat's beguiling score.