The Tale (2018)

I've been meaning to check out The Tale for quite some time as it stars Laura Dern and I've heard great things about it —not sure if on Twitter or Letterboxd— but I kept putting it off because I thought it was a horror movie and I'm rarely in the mood for horrors. Turns out it is a horror film, but not a conventional one.

Written and directed by Jennifer Fox, the film follows Fox (Laura Dern) as she is working on a documentary about rape and abuse. While researching for the documentary, she gets a call from her mother (Ellen Burstyn) who is alarmed after discovering an essay Fox wrote when she was thirteen in which she depicted the relationship between her (Isabelle Nélisse) and her adult riding instructor and running coach Bill (Jason Ritter), and she starts investigating the nature of it. 

First of all, kudos to Jennifer Fox for having the courage to tell her own story —as a victim of abuse myself, I know it's not easy to speak about it, even more so making a film about it. Second, kudos to her for telling this disturbing, heartbreaking and heart-wrenching story with such sensitivity and grace, and keeping it real without the melodrama that's usually attached to the subject. That said, the storytelling isn't always effective as Fox lingers too long on some parts making the story tiresome and some plots feel forced. Overall though, Fox has done a very good job with the script and telling the story from the character's perspective as she struggles on recollecting the events really works.

As for the cast, Laura Dern does a wonderful job as Jennifer Fox, a brave woman who is forced to face the fact that she was repeatedly raped as a child by an adult she trusted and that other adults, her mother included, did nothing to stop it. Isabelle Nélisse, although she is miscast in the role of 13-year-old Fox as she looks nothing like Dern —they share eye and hair colour but their bone structures, both face and body, are completely different—, too is extraordinary and often overshadows Dern. The mental conversations between Dern and Nélisse are perhaps the most compelling bits of the film. The supporting cast isn't that good but the blame is on Fox herself as she barely wrote the supporting characters.

HBO Films
There's something, however, that prevents The Tale from being a great film, it's the direction. Fox's attempt at making the film as realistic as possible is too desperate for the film's own good. And the sex scenes between 13-year-old Fox and her coach —don't worry, body doubles were used in inappropriate scenes like this one— feels forced as it's only there to shock the audience.

1 comment :

  1. I agree those scenes of Jenny and her coach went on too long. I liked this, but I'm not sure I'd ever be able to watch it again.