Bad Tales (Favolacce)

Bad Tales (Favolacce)

Director: Damiano D’Innocenzo, Fabio D’Innocenzo (as Fratelli D’Innocenzo)

Runtime: 100 minutes

Cast: Elio Germano, Barbara Chichiarelli, Lino Musella, Gabriel Montesi,Amelio Guerrini, Ileana D’Ambra,Max Malatesta,Pietro Rosa,Giulia Galiani, Max Tortora, Cristina Pellegrino, Justin Korovkin

Synopsis: Once upon a time there was a dark tale set in a small community somewhere in the world. A seemingly normal world silently festering with the sadism of fathers and the anger of diligent, desperate children.


A twisted gothic fairy tale set in a southern suburb of Rome, the impressive second feature by the D’Innocenzo brothers [Boys Cry (2018), screenwriters of Dogman d. Matteo Garrone (2018)]

Favolacce (translated as Bad Tales) is their breakthrough as writer-directors and won the Silver Bear award for screenplay at the 2020 Berlin film festival.

With the haunting atmosphere of a dream that gradually transforms into a waking nightmare, the film has an unreliable narrator. It begins with the words:

This true story was inspired by a false story – This false story was not very inspired.”

Then adds to the air of mystery with the unseen narrator (Max Tortora) telling us he found a young girl’s diary with blank pages and continues the journal in fictional form.

The sweltering summer heat beats down on a sterile residential estate in the suburbs of Rome. Many a family lives here that no longer belong anywhere. There is a sense of unease that can explode at any moment. Parents are constantly frustrated because they are not from a better suburb, and the kind of middle-class life they had hoped for is beyond their reach. But their children are the real protagonists of the shock wave that propels the entire estate towards collapse. An almost primitive rage shines in the relationships and events of this Italian summer portrayed in the directors’ rigorous mise-en-scène which cinematographer Paolo Carnera convincingly captures.

The unreliable narrator guides us, sweetly and sarcastically, through this dark fairy tale. A story about women and men of three disaffected families who see their hopes and dreams falling by the wayside all too soon.

An instinctively acted ensemble drama of a group of dysfunctional, blue-collar families in the Rome suburbs at the end of a sweltering summer. The children are preparing to go back to school where a sinister science teacher will have a catastrophic influence.

The redoubtable Italian actor Elio Germano plays Bruno, married to Dalila (Barbara Chichiarelli): he is an angry, repressed, man given to rages and crying jags, who is unsettled by the emotional closeness of his smart kids, Dennis (Tommaso Di Cola) and Alessia (Giulietta Rebeggiani) and by his neighbours. Bruno is relatively financially better off but it   brings him no happiness and secretly infuriates his friend and neighbour Pietro (Max Malatesta), married to Susanna (Cristina Pellegrino), who is furious when he has to take his daughter Viola (Giulia Melillo) out of Bruno’s garden pool because she has head lice.

Then, another boy, Geremia (Justin Korovkin), gets measles and his devoted dad Amelio (Gabriel Montesi) agrees to Susanna’s suggestion that his son should get together with Viola so that she can get her measles out of the way – and Amelio thinks it might be a great way to get Geremia laid. Dennis meanwhile is preoccupied with a pregnant woman called Vilma (Ileana D’Ambra).

With the feral, alpha behaviour of the men, tensions here can explode at any time in Bad Tales and ultimately it is the children who precipitate the shocking collapse.


Streaming on MUBI

Images courtesy of MUBI