Run time: 134mins

Director: Matteo Garrone

Cast: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson, Hayley Carmichael

Synopsis: From the bitter quest of the Queen of Longtrellis, who forfeits the life of her husband, to two mysterious sisters who provoke the passion of the King of Strongcliff, to the King of Highhills obsessed with a giant flea leading to heartbreak for his young daughter, these stories weave the beautiful with the grotesque, creating a stunning and unique work of Gothic imagination.

URL: www.curzonartificialeye.com

Celebrated Italian director, Matteo Garrone [Gomorrah (2008), Reality (2012)] has adapted three stories from the seventeenth century fairy tales of Giambattista Basile for his first English-language film, starring a top-notch international cast.

These Baroque fairy tales, with a sinister and surreal quality, are feast of colours, with extreme characters and themes of love and dark obsession.  Neapolitan poet Basile’s stories inspired the likes of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, but these sumptuous blood-soaked very loosely intertwined tales are adult and much more disturbing than Sleeping Beauty, The Snow Queen or Cinderella.

Visually breath-taking cinematography by Peter Suschitzky in authentic Italian locations in Apulia, Abruzzo, Tuscany and Ragusa, Sicily serve as the settings for the tales of the three possessed monarchs in neighbouring kingdoms whose dark desires result in twisted, bleak, almost horror stories.

In one a jealous Queen (Salma Hayek) forfeits her husband’s life in her frantic desire to have a child.  In the second, the king (Vincent Cassel) is a fornicating libertine whose passions are stoked by two mysterious sisters. In the third, the king (Toby Jones) becomes totally captivated by a giant flea, at the expense of his daughter’s happiness.

The film’s loose narrative structure is evocative of oral story-telling – gloriously rich with sorcerers, fairies, frightening monsters, ogres, acrobats and old crones (including the wonderful Shirley Henderson buried under hours of prosthetics). An atmospheric score from Alexandre Desplat helps make Tale of Tales  an unforgettable anthology of gore, duplicity and obsessive love.

Images courtesy of CURZON ARTIFICIAL EYE