Italian film maker Matteo Garrone, best known for his realist Mafia drama Gomorrah, makes a surprising choice for his English language debut in this 17th century fairytale. We follow the interweaving stories of three monarchs – an ageing ruler (Toby Jones) who acquires a strange new pet; a queen (Salma Hayek) desperate to ensure her son’s safety; and an amorous king (Vincent Cassell) whose object of affection is not all she seems.
When your poster is Hayek chowing down on a heart, you know you’re in for something different. Bonkers from the start, it’s a bloody set of stories that revels in being unsettling and bizarre. Garrone’s leads are led by their desires, and we have no choice but to follow them down the rabbit hole as they suffer the consequences of their actions.
Luxurious visuals offset the bursts of gore, providing a rich backdrop to the drama. Hayek’s belligerent queen is worthy of particular praise, becoming ever more sinister as her story progresses, while rising star Bebe Cave is also on excellent form.
You may leave slightly baffled and a little queasy, but there’s no denying Tale of Tales is thoroughly unique.