Film Review – The Tale (2018)


Title – The Tale (2018)

Director – Jennifer Fox (My Reincarnation)

Cast – Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse, Jason Ritter, Common, Elizabeth Debicki, Ellen Burstyn

Plot – Based on the true story of director Jennifer Fox’s (Dern) childhood in which she shared life-defining and potentially detrimental dealings with her riding instructor Mrs. G (Debicki) and her friend/running coach Bill (Ritter), dealings that shaped Fox’s later life and thoughts.

“When I was a child, I was obsessed with changing myself”

Review by Eddie on 29/09/2021

Whether through original films or TV, critical darlings HBO have long been a purveyor of content that pushes boundaries and gets people talking but for all their previous flirting of the lines through content such as Game of Thrones, Deadwood or films such as Elephant, Jennifer Fox’s autobiographical drama The Tale is most surely one of the hardest too watch pieces of content produced by the giant of cinematic/televisual content.

A documentarian by trade, Fox decided to bring her haunting tale of innocence lost and the lasting mental/physical effects of childhood trauma/abuse to light in a unique and captivating way but so honest and raw is this story of Laura Dern’s older Fox and Isabelle Nelisse’s young teen version of Fox that there is undoubtedly many reasons as too why some may find it impossible to sit through this unconventional tale that tackles an often taboo subject in a way in which we’ve never seen attempted before.

Going back and forward between the past and present and even having varied haunting moments where an older Fox asks questions of her younger innocent self or vice versa, The Tale doesn’t tackle the story of Fox’s childhood and early teenage years under the tutelage of Elizabeth Debicki’s horse riding instructor Mrs. G and her running coach accomplice Bill (played impressively by Jason Ritter in a role that mustn’t have been easy to embody) in a by the numbers way and the true horrors of the aftermath on Fox takes a while to unfold but when it does its as powerful as you’d see from cinema both big or small.

In a role that saw her take home and be nominated for an abundance of TV awards in 2018, Laura Dern delivers one of her most incendiary turns in a long standing career as the vulnerable but also brave Fox and young performer Isabelle Nelisse is incredible in a role that’s difficultly is hard to place into words but the two talented leads ensure that Fox’s personal and important tale is bought to life in a memorable and passionate way, delivered so powerfully that I am sure many viewers with relatable occurrences to what transpires in this film will be moved beyond measure.

It’s by no means a perfect film, a film that at times gets bogged down in a slow pace and repetitive scenes but The Tale is an important piece of movie making and while it comes with a huge content warning and a need for viewers to brace themselves for some detestable situations, it’s also worthy of continual attention these years on from its low-key release.

Final Say – 

A powerful true life story that is bought to life by a determined director and the great work of her two leading actresses, The Tale is far from easy viewing and won’t be palatable for all viewers but its another feather in the cap of HBO who continue to provide us with content that can’t be found anywhere else.

4 tolerant fiancé’s out of 5  

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