Il racconto dei racconti
Director: Matteo Garrone
Writer: Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso
Based on: Giambattista Basile‘s fairy tale collection
Cast: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson, Hayley Carmichael, Bebe Cave, Stacy Martin, Christian Lees, Jonah Lees
Seen on: 2.9.2015
The Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) is desperate to have a child with her husband (John C. Reilly). But so far, all their attempts were unsuccessful. Yet another magical attempt finally brings the wished-for results, but at a price. In the meantime the King of Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel) has pretty much fucked everyone around him. But when he hears the sweet singing of a maid, he immediately falls in love. Only that the girl doesn’t want to show herself. In a third kingdom, the King of Highhills (Toby Jones) has a rather unusual pet that takes away his attention from his daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) who is waiting to be married.
Il racconto dei racconti is an adaptation of 17th century fairy tales and as one can imagine, things are not necessarily for the faint of heart, nor are they very friendly to women. But Garrone crafted an entertaining, visually stunning film from them in any case.
There is much to like about the film, and the visuals are certainly one of its biggest strengths. Whether it’s a sea monster or a young, naked girl in the forest, it all looks brilliant and comes in highly saturated colors, making the film a feast for the eyes.
The cast does its part as well to make the film entertaining with two particular stand-outs: Salma Hayek is amazing. It’s been a while that I saw her, but it’s good to get a reminder how forceful a presence she has on screen. Vincent Cassel was in quite another film from anybody else, and it’s honestly glorious to watch him dial it up to eleven in the ham department. If you thought his performance in Elizabeth was shiny, you should watch him glow here.
There are things that don’t really work in the film. The plot surrounding Imma (Shirley Henderson) and Dora (Hayley Carmichael) doesn’t make much sense – if they had shown themselved to the King, everything could have been avoided and it never becomes clear why they wouldn’t just show themselves. The ending for pretty much all the tales was pretty harsh – as can be expected from fairy tales of that time – but in particular for the women – as can also be expected from fairy tales of that time. But just because you expect old fairy tales to be misogynistic as fuck doesn’t make it go down any easier.
But it can help you handle things. And there is enough to this film to make the endeavor worthwhile. It’s nice to get lesser known fairy tales, I loved the flea even though/because it was so surpremely weird and I just generally enjoyed watching the film.