Tale of Tales is a dark and twisted fantasy. The film is combined of three stories that take place in different medieval kingdoms. The fairy tales that make up the movie’s narrative seem highly inspired by the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Each one is disturbing and contains graphic moments of horror and death.
I think this film is worth seeing for many reasons. The performances and pacing may not always be exciting, but the film as a whole pays off for any fan of dark folklore. Seeing Vincent Cassel on screen always puts a movie on another level and his story is one of the most heartbreaking and unsettling of the three tales. Salma Hayek does a great job in her story, and Bebe Cave is fantastic along with Toby Jones in one of the film’s oddest and bloodiest sections.
The opening tale concerns a King and Queen of a land called Longtrellis who cannot conceive a child. The story here plays out with plenty of beats that will be familiar to fans of mythology and medieval legends. Monsters are slain and heroes die, but the fantastic moments really begin to take hold when two identical children are born of the heart of a giant sea creature. Jealousy, envy and spite are main factors in why this one turns bad, and Salma Hayek is right in the middle of it all as the evil Queen.
In another kingdom, a self proclaimed “cold King” who spends his time chasing the women of his realm into his bed, becomes entranced by a mysterious girl he finds singing beautifully. Without getting a good look at the woman, he begins to stalk her without realizing that she is a withered old hag. Magic enters the picture, but when things go wrong and the hag’s sister becomes a problem, the story turns very dark.
The third part of Tale of Tales is probably the oddest of the picture, and it almost plays out as two different chapters in the lives of it’s characters. A King and his Princess daughter rule over a hilltop kingdom. The first part is about the King played by Toby Jones and the flea that he grows to enormous size. The second bit has to do with the Princess who wants to be married more than anything and gets more than she bargained for. Bebe Cave as Princess Violet shows that she can handle being in the royal circle and then deal with brutal and gory action. It’s pretty hardcore.
Overall, Tale of Tales has some fantastic moments and the cinematography is at times breathtaking. The film can be sluggish at times even though it feels very inspired by Lord of the Rings in scope and certainly length, but for having three separate stories all together, it does not feel like a normal anthology movie. Tales is now out in select theaters and is available on VOD, and for fans of dark fantasy that don’t feel like going to see the craziness of The Huntsman: Winter’s War with a crowd, Tale of Tales is the way to go. Besides, how often do you get to see John C. Reilly fight a leviathan?