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The Tale handles its extraordinarily challenging subject matter with sensitivity, grace, and the power of some standout performances led by a remarkable Laura Dern.
All Critics (73)
| Top Critics (28)
| Fresh (72)
| Rotten (1)
Jenny's reluctance to stare down the horror gives "The Tale" an ineluctable psychological power.
The Tale is lit up by a clarifying anger, but it has a stirring, inspiring streak-it's about mastering a story by finding the right way to tell it.
It is, instead, a startlingly effective act of fiction, in which [Jennifer] Fox turns her abuser into an accessory in her own narrative, a means to an ending.
Fox's movie renders the reconsideration of the personal past inseparable from reconsiderations of the historical past-and so, of cultural objects from the past that exert enduring power today.
The Tale excels in these absurdist meta-moments, such as the scenes in which Dern and Nélisse meet up across time to deconstruct events as they happen.
The Tale depicts the haziness of memory cinematically.
An extraordinary piece of storytelling and a daring confessional. You've seen nothing like it before.
The Tale is a powerful film that would get greater accolades if released widely
Jennifer Fox's autobiographical debut makes for harrowing but essential viewing.
The Tale is distressing and compelling, a film for the #MeToo movement that reckons with personal relationships and inflicted trauma.
The framing of what happened to Jenny is flexible, expansive, interested in complication; the perspective is enigmatic, deeply personal, at once singular and manifold, insular and diffuse.
Dern has never been better than she is here in this film. It's a stunning achievement, made all the more powerful by the fact that she's interpreting the filmmaker's worst moments in life.
A staggering, poignant, and powerful film about sexual abuse, memory, and the way people tell themselves stories of their past as opposed to how they remember them. Often times, our recollections form in order to favor the truth we desire to believe rather than the truth itself. While the subject matter and story of writer/director Jennifer Fox's cinematic memoir is as harrowing as anything in recent memory it is the way Fox is able to capture the coming into being of unconscious memories that is truly fascinating and eye-opening; it is a way to understand the psychology of these victims that has never been communicated or never been communicated as well as it is here up to this point. Fox has referred to this as an "unraveling of denial" as she was never unaware of these events and the fact they'd occurred in her life, but more that she'd never thought of them as being traumatic. It is this fine line that "The Tale" and Fox herself walks in being able to successfully convey the contrasting perspectives of her adult self (as played by Laura Dern) and her thirteen year-old self (Isabelle Nï¿ 1/2 (C)lisse). What is depicted is not easy to watch and Fox is unrestrained in revealing the grotesque truth of her circumstances, but it is in this truth that viewers are intended to contend with just how disturbing all of this is and how intensely it can truly warp the victim's mind.
Kudos to the way the story is told by director Jennifer Fox, and for telling her very personal story in the first place. The level of denial, sublimation, and discovery decades later is honest and illuminating. The conversations Laura Dern has in her mind with people from the past (including her 13 year old self, Isabelle Nélisse) as she sifts through the fog and memories of her abuse, are brilliant. Dern's performance is decent but not outstanding, but Ellen Burstyn's is strong, as is that of Nélisse. There were a few moments in the story that seemed a little odd, but no one can deny its fundamental truth to far too many. I have to say though, it's very tough to watch in several places. I'm certain Fox's intention was to be completely honest, but to be this explicit, and in what can be misinterpreted as a sympathetic overtone, is unpleasant to sit through. The extent of the negative impact of predatory child rape isn't fully felt, though Dern's scene confronting her abuser late in the movie is powerful. I like how Fox signaled the cyclical nature of the crime ('what happened to you?'), and I loved the inclusion of her own childhood pictures at the end, which brings goosebumps. A heartbreaking, important film, but just brace yourself before watching it.
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