Less than grand Grand Guignol, “Tale of Tales” (Il racconto dei racconti), is an insistently gruesome fairytale shocker from modern Italian maximalist Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah,” “Reality”). The gaudy, bawdy, ugly, disturbing excesses of “ToT” are strangely inert in this adaptation of three fairytales about three Renaissance royals in three kingdoms by seventeenth-century Neapolitan writer Giambattista Basile. Filth alternates with finery and the attractions are not limited to sea monsters, albino twins, bloody hearts, dragons, ogres, lechers, necromancers and monstrous, steak-eating fleas. It’s an eyeful, but not a mind full. The surfaces are impeccably shot by Peter Suschitzky (“Crash,” “Cosmopolis,” “Dead Ringers,” and eight other David Cronenberg films; “The Empire Strikes Back”). Among the actors providing affability in the face of abstruse absurdity are Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones and Shirley Henderson. 125m. (Ray Pride)
“Tale Of Tales” opens Friday, May 27 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.