Review: Bad Tales (Favolacce)

Written and directed by Damiano D’Innocenzo and Fabio D’Innocenzo, a few families living out on a limb in the suburbs of Rome, tensions here can explode at any time, ultimately it’s the children who bring about the collapse. Starring: Elio Germano, Tommaso Di Cola, Giulietta Rebeggiani, Gabriel Montesi, Justin Korovkin, Barbara Chichiarelli, Lino Musella, Ileana D’Ambra and Max Malatesta.

When they say that young children are easily influenced, this would be a great example of that, letting ideas run away from them with serious consequences. It jumps in without any real establishing of the story, it moves at its own pace and simply lets you catch up as you go along but at the same time it reveals an increasingly long number of issues with its choices. It starts off with a palpable awkward tension to it that indicates it might be going somewhere satisfyingly dramatic but the short answer is, it’s not.

It’s hard to describe just how unnecessary, distasteful and even at times offensive this story is, children talking about and even attempting to experiment with sex at much too young an age, men casually discussing rape, and more violent themes. The writing doesn’t have any message, observation or meaning to it, there is the potential for a moral about children having a severe lack of parental guidance but they don’t take any time to explore the darkness in its story and imply that it’s meant as anything other than dramatic twists and turns. It’s aimlessly telling a tale of neglect and abuse, the tone is completely off and much too casual, it seems to be leaning towards something intentionally outlandish and shocking but without any taste or style to back it up. Whereas a film like Cuties has been unfairly targetted despite having a sincere message about modern society’s affect on children’s perspectives and behaviour, this is the kind of film that’s worth complaining about, which has strongly inappropriate themes involving children and no meaningful intentions to be found.

The direction is messy, the shot choices are awkward and clumsy and the cinematography often plays with colours that don’t quite fit and have an offputting hue. It creates an odd atmosphere that’s rather insincere and cold, that aimless nature to its story bleeds into the direction, unsurprisingly given that both were done by the same filmmakers. It uses discomfort but ineffectively, it doesn’t add suspense or tension, it’s just an unfortunate inclusion. There is a form of surreal perspective, that it’s creating a slightly twisted version of reality but it doesn’t commit to it strongly enough to pay off. The acting is a hugely mixed bag and can be entirely unconvincing at times, not just the child actors but throughout the entire cast.

Bad Tales is senseless, unnecessary and distasteful, which would usually be phrases applied to films with disgusting levels of violence or gore but with this film, it’s the story itself that’s wildly inappropriate and aimless. If you dug deep into its content, you can probably find the intentions of these filmmakers but they simply aren’t clear enough to justify its choices, added to the fact that it’s poorly directed, edited, acted and shot. It takes an extremely dark story and then entirely forgets to take that into account and ends up with something offensive and thoughtless.

Verdict: ✯

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival

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