Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti) (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti) (2016)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Visually splendid and narratively satisfying, Tale of Tales packs an off-kilter wallop for mature viewers in search of something different.

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Movie Info

Once upon a time there were three neighboring kingdoms each with a magnificent castle, from which ruled kings and queens, princes and princesses. One king was a fornicating libertine, another captivated by a strange animal, while one of the queens was obsessed by her wish for a child. Sorcerers and fairies, fearsome monsters, ogres and old washerwomen, acrobats and courtesans are the protagonists of this loose interpretation of the celebrated tales of Giambattista Basile.

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Cast

Salma Hayek
as Queen of Longtrellis
John C. Reilly
as King of Longtrellis
Toby Jones
as King of Highhills
Vincent Cassel
as King of Strongcliff
Laura Pizzirani
as Jonah's mother
Michael Martini
as 1st Circus Boy
Franco Pistoni
as Negromante
Alessandro Campagna
as 2nd Circus Boy
Jessie Cave
as Fenizia
Bebe Cave
as Viola
Nicola Sloane
as Handmaiden
Stacy Martin
as Young Dora
Renato Scarpa
as Barbiere
Giuseppina Cervizzi
as Lady of the Court
Giselda Volodi
as Lady of the Court
Vincenzo Nemolato
as Circus Performer
Giulio Beranek
as Circus Performer
Davide Campagna
as Circus Performer
Kenneth Collard
as Knife Sharpener
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News & Interviews for Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti)

Critic Reviews for Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti)

All Critics (99) | Top Critics (20)

It balances otherworldliness and banality, sublimity and grotesquery, wonder and horror.

June 2, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

There have been a glut of fairy tale adaptations, from "Into the Woods," "Maleficient" and "Jack the Giant Slayer" to the network TV shows "Grimm" and "Once Upon a Time," but if you're a fan make room for "Tale of Tales."

May 12, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

More spellbinding than satisfying, but memorable and even haunting all the same.

May 5, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Tale of Tales is the most faithful and creatively rendered fairy tale onscreen to date, bizarrely satisfying and totally worth a patient, focused viewing.

April 29, 2016 | Full Review…

The director invests his filmmaking with so much bawdy, darkly comic energy that it's all the more perplexing that "Tale of Tales" never quite stirs to life.

April 28, 2016 | Full Review…

Garrone has created a world of both rich and ugly textures - visual, narrative and imaginative - that transports, delights and imparts disturbing lessons.

April 28, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti)

I've always made it clear that I'm not the biggest Disney fan. And I mean Disney the corporation. I've enjoyed many Disney movies in the past and will continue to do so for as long as they are actually quality. This is something I've said before, but I hate how Disney wishes to buy and control everything in the world. They own LucasArts, therefore they own Star Wars and all its other properties. They own Marvel, so they have that large catalog of superheros. They own Pixar, arguably, the best animated studio in North America. They're trying to buy Fox, which would give them 60% ownership of Hulu, the Deadpool/X-Men franchise, Fox News (who would REALLY want to own this propaganda channel), among another properties Fox (The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, etc, etc, etc). This Fox purchase is the one that worries me the most, because Deadpool was one of the freshest and most exciting superheroes to come out in a while, because the humor was NOT Disney-friendly. It was a very cleverly written movie, to be sure, but it was definitely very raunchy. And, under Disney's control, I fear that if we were to get more Deadpool, they'd tone the raunch down to fit that Disney filter and to 'maximize earnings'. If Deadpool 2 bombs and they still greenlight the third movie and they tone it down, look for it to be officially done as a result of Deadpool 2's failure and not because the movie might have had an inferior script. That's neither here nor there. The point is, Disney's quest for world domination started with a lot of their princesses, whose original stories were part of the public domain. Alice In Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty are two of these. The problem I have with Disney's ownership of characters and stories that used to be in the public domain is the fact that it stifles creativity. Everything surrounding those specific characters, or any other Disney-owned property, has to go through that Disney-filter. You can't keep some of the darker elements from these fairy tales, because they're not 'family-friendly' enough. Disney, in my opinion, has ruined fairy tales. There's some really deliciously dark fairy tales out there and Disney has sanitized a majority of them. This is where a movie like Tale of Tales comes into play. Here they take a series of, well, dark fairy tales and bring them to life through excellent costume design, surrealistic visuals and strong storytelling. These tales are based on a collection of stories by Giambattista Basile. The title of this collection is Neapolitan for The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones. Yes, seriously. And I know the tales in this book are loosely based on stories from that collection, but if Basile's book was meant as entertainment for little ones, then kids back in the day were a lot tougher than kids are nowadays. Not that there's anything wrong with parents being protective of their children nowadays, there's a lot more dangers out there, in a sense. But there's also the fact that some parents just take it too far sometimes. I'm not saying that these stories should be used to terrify children, I'm just saying that there's no problem with a darker approach to a well-known story. I don't mean make it grotesque and violent, like parts of this movie are, I just mean go to some darker places with your narrative. This movie really does revel in the fact that it is very obviously, and proudly, a fairy tale for adults. And, obviously, as a fan of anthology horror films (and I don't think this can really be called a horror movie), I jumped at the opportunity to watch this. Literally, I did a little jump and a jig. Ever since Wild Tales (probably the best anthology movie I've seen), I've been of the opinion that the best of these types of movies almost always come from the same source. What I mean by that is that only one person has a hand in writing each story. Wild Tales was written and directed by just one man and, given that he was the sole creative force in the film, he could pick and choose the best of his stories. With multiple writer and/or directors, you don't have that same luxury. These film's tales are all based off the same source and there's an obvious sense of synergy. The disparate characters in this film share the same universe, something like the MCU but, obviously, scaled WAY back. The three tales are vastly different from one another, but all boil down to the same theme of people whose desire and obsession leads to their undoing. For example, Violent, who wants to be married off so she can see the world, is married off to an ogre because her father. But her father, the King of Highhills, also lost sight of the fact that he should have been a father first and a king second, becoming obsessed with this giant flea, whose hide he uses to hold a tournament to see who's fit to marry his daughter. Violet, sensing that her father simply didn't care enough to send people to save her, even though he was truly sorry for what he did and even took ill as a result, eventually ends up having to save herself. The Queen, who so desperately wanted a son, is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to make it happen. Her husband died as a result of his desire to make her happy. The queen, once having a son, isn't satisfied when he befriends a lowly 'peasant', who just so happens to be his equal in every way, right down to appearance. Her obsession with obtaining her son's love got to the point where she tried to murder Elias' friend, Jonah, rather than sacrifice her happiness for her son, who has achieved true happiness through his friendship with Jonah. The Queen ends up paying the ultimate price at her son's hand. The Lustful King becomes obsessed with a poor woman whose voice he heard. He goes after her and she, pretty much, catfishes him. Or at least the equivalent of it in this time. He believes her to be young and beautiful when in reality she is old and, to him, ugly. The conversations they have, while some of the funnier aspects of the movie, reveal Dora's desire to leave this world, and her sister Imma, behind for a higher lot in life. She proceeds to let the king know that she's DTF and tells him that she'll come to his room if all the candles are turned off. The king does so, they have sex and the next morning he gets a real look at her. Repulsed by what he sees, he orders his guards to literally throw her out the window of his tower. She survives this fall, is breastfed by this witch and turns into a young and beautiful woman. The king, on a hunting trip, finds her and decides to make her his wife. Finally, Dora has what she wants but she betrays her sister, who was always by her side for a man who tossed her out of his tower only days earlier. Dora is, essentially, not that different from the Lustful King. Imma, wanting to be closer to her sister, asks her what she did to turn young and beautiful and Dora responds by saying that she flayed herself. Poor naive Imma, however, took this way too literally and hired someone to flay her. So Dora sacrificed her sister for her own desires, but she sacrificed her sister for a temporary youth and beauty, as by the end of the film, Dora starts to turn back into who she really was. But, now, she is without her sister and she will probably live the rest of her days alone. So you can see how while, again, there are different stories, the themes of obsession and desire and the price to pay for those desires are shared throughout all shorts. As far as my thoughts about this are concerned, I thought this was a great movie. But it's a movie that sort of sneaks up on you with its greatness. I don't wanna say that parts of the movie were a little slow, but they do require a little more patience. The thing about this is the fact that the world is so well-built that, in spite of it being a very surrealistic place, you're fully immersed into this and the world they have built. You're invested in finding out where the stories are headed and what their conclusions may be. And I was really satisfied by how all shorts played out. It should also be noted that this is built like a Tarantino movie, where they jump back and forth between stories. It's not like VHS where you see one story in its entirety, then you move to the next one and so on and so forth. I don't know how I felt about that honestly, because there are bits in the movie where you're so into the story you're seeing that for them to throw you to another segment is a bit jarring and a little disappointing. It wasn't so much of an issue in the end, since everything comes together really nicely and, again, there's something to the shared universe these characters inhabit that helps add a little bit of weight to everything you're seeing. I don't know how, but it does. Having said that, this is still very much an adult fairy tale. It doesn't shy away from the grotesque and violent, but it's not as much of either of those as you would expect. That really isn't an issue for me, however, since I enjoyed the stories so damn much. The acting is quality and I've already mentioned the set/costume design and cinematography. Really, I loved this movie. It's not the best movie I've ever seen, but it's approach to its fairy tale was surprisingly refreshing and inventive. This is a great movie and I'd definitely recommend it if you're sick and tired of Disney's repetitively family friendly approach to its characters and you just want an alternative to all that noise. If you want to know what Disney movie would look like if it took actual risks, it would be this. Can't complain, this is a quality movie.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

½

Set in a beautifully lurid world of magic and eccentricity, with sumptuous costumes, lavish hair and beguiling makeup (and even some nice acting), "Tale of Tales" is much more a visual entertainment than a tale. The story is a bizarre stream of consciousness seemingly designed for the sole purpose of exhibiting the next grotesque vision of an otherwise capable director. All the stars I awarded are for style and technical execution -- certainly not for storytelling.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

½

The costume design and art direction stand out in this messy film that lacks cohesion and suffers from serious tonal problems as it moves from amusing dark farce into something uncomfortably grotesque - and it is frustrating that it doesn't seem to go anywhere.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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