Well-made and proudly weird, this collection of fairy tales is missing something; it could have been funny, sexy, or thrilling, but instead it's clinical, like spying on bugs under a microscope. Director Matteo Garrone once made a terrific modern Italian crime movie (Gomorrah), but otherwise, he's struggled to find the right tone for his movies (The Embalmer, Reality, etc.), and TALE OF TALES is yet another example of missing the mark.
In switching between the three main threads, the film stays too long in each, and the movie never really builds an enticing rhythm. Likewise, none of the tales stands out; they all have the same constant thrum, and nothing perks up the storytelling. Some bits, such as the sea monster or the giant flea, feel like they should elicit some kind of reaction, but they just don't; it's like they're museum pieces. Ultimately, this is an interesting but lackluster attempt to bring Giambattista Basile's tales to an American audience.