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Tale of Tales

Fabulous production values keep this anthology of fairy tales afloat

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This lush, if slowly paced, production from Matteo Garrone presents three somewhat intertwined stories, inspired by the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile. In one, a queen (Salma Hayek) is so desperate for a child that she sends her husband (John C. Reilly) to the bottom of the sea in search of a sea monster’s heart, as part of a magical pact to conceive. Another royal person (Toby Jones) disregards the needs of his teenage daughter when he becomes obsessed with a giant flea. And a libertine nobleman (Vincent Cassel) is enchanted by an overheard song, which, alas, is sung by an old crone, prompting assorted subterfuges. Among all the parties there are bad bargains, secrets, violent ends and forays into the magical and just plain freaky. None of the tales are that remarkable on paper, but the production values are top-notch, with fantastic sets and costumes, and the slate of committed actors keeps this affair watchable.


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