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TALE OF TALES

This visually stunning film from Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone, boasts many fine performances and unusual images that stay in the mind long after the viewer has left the cinema.

This visually stunning film from Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone, boasts many fine performances and unusual images that stay in the mind long after the viewer has left the cinema. As someone who grew up watching the ‘Tales From Europe’ TV programmes in the sixties and seventies, I found much here that gave me a warm, nostalgic glow.

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The Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) gladly sacrifices the life of her husband so she can have a baby. The King of Highhills (Toby Jones) becomes obsessed with nursing a giant flea and neglects his own daughter with catastrophic results. My personal favourite was the tale of the two sisters who want to throw off their ugliness to be with the philandering King of Strongcliff (a truly sleazy Vincent Cassel).

Add to this heady mix albino twin boys, a giant looking for a bride and a villager only too willing to flay the skin off a living woman and you have a dark and macabre fairy tale that often evokes the work of Guillermo Del Toro. The sets and locations become characters in the story, hinting at a mysterious world where magic and sorcery lie just below the surface, not to mention supernatural creatures who delight in interfering in mortal affairs.

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Toby Jones is outstanding as the flea-obsessed King, forced to give his daughter up in marriage to a creature she detests. While Imma (a poignant Shirley Henderson) who seeks eternal beauty suffers the most awful fate, provoking our sympathy whilst warning us to be careful of what we wish for, like all good fairy tales should.

TALE OF TALES opens in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on 17 June 2016.

Running time: 133 minutes
Link to previous SEEN article: Curzon Bloomsbury