The Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti) 3.0 stars

Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti) movie poster

At first, you might think the title of this sometimes gorgeous, sometimes visceral offering from Matteo Garrone is a sort of superlative, something like Your Show of Shows. And who could blame you? The film opens with a barren queen (Salma Hayek) visited by a spectral stranger who tells her that she will conceive if she kills a sea monster, has a virgin cook its heart in solitude, and then eats said heart — which she promptly does (though not without cost). Phew! But it isn’t long before you realize that it’s more of a collective, a tale made up of tales that come together without quite becoming one, tales concerning the queen’s offspring, a lecherous king, a pent-up princess, an ambitious crone, a foolish father...you understand. It’s also possibly a consideration: a tale about tales, their universal themes of death and birth and desire, their vulgar power and transporting beauty — all the things that make us want to watch. More spellbinding than satisfying, but memorable and even haunting all the same. 2015.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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