'Fabulously sexy' Tale of Tales reclaims fairy tales for adults

Deliciously dark fantasy horror is 'like nothing else in cinema this year'


Matteo Garrone's hotly anticipated fantasy horror film Tale of Tales opens in UK cinemas this Friday. The film wowed audiences when it was shown at Cannes and reviewers have called it a "deliciously adult fairy tale".

Garrone, best known for his award-winning organised crime film Gomorrah, directs this English-language anthology film based on the Neapolitan folk tales of Giambattista Basile, who in turn inspired authors such as the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. Garrone also admitted in an interview in Variety that he was influenced by Game of Thrones.

The movie interweaves three stories of troubled kingdoms, including a wife who eats a dragon's heart to fall pregnant, a distracted king who neglects his daughter for a strange pet, and an old woman transformed into a bewitching beauty to seduce a lustful king. It stars Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, John C Reilly and Toby Jones.

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The film dazzled audiences and critics at Cannes. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw called it "gloriously mad", "visually wonderful" and the sort of film that is "the whole point of Cannes".

Meanwhile, Alex Leadbeater at What Culture described it as a "creative treat" but wondered if it was an "eccentric take on Game Of Thrones", or a "reclaiming of Grimm's Fairytales from the simplistic child joys of Disney".

Indeed, "these aren't the fairy tales your parents told you in bed at night", warned Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph. If they were, you might still be lying awake.

Collin says Garrone has put aside the social-realism of his film Gomorrah for something "much older and eerier" that "dances on a razor's edge between funny and unnerving". He adds that the horror rubbing up against moments of "searing baroque beauty" make Tale of Tales a "fabulously sexy" film that "feels like nothing else in cinema this year".

It's "a deliciously odd adult fairy tale", says Ryan Lambie of Den of Geek. And while the deeper meaning behind Garrone's "mad fantasy" is hard to pin down, he says, "those with a taste for the imaginative and the surreal will surely be bewitched".

Lambie praises the film for relying on less obvious splashes of CGI than most mainstream fantasies and using real European locations and physical effects that "set it apart from the likes of Duncan Jones's Warcraft or Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies".

Lambie adds that there's a "strong possibility that Tale Of Tales will acquire cult status in years to come".

Opens in UK cinemas on Friday 17 June.

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