The Tale Movie Review - A haunting reminiscence

Jun 02, 2018, 07:00 IST | Johnson Thomas

Combined with Fox's analytic approach, the story of The Tale steadily revs up to a devastation that is all the more powerful, as it coolly sheds the cobwebs that have shrouded the actual truth over the years

The Tale

The Tale
U/A: Drama thriller
Dir: Jennifer Fox
Cast: Laura Dern, Elizabeth Debicki, Chelsea Alden
Rating:Rating

At a time when sexual molestation cases and crimes against women, outing and reportage are on the rise, comes this devastating and deservedly disturbing account of sexual assault by a survivor. The film is based on director Jennifer Fox's personal experience. The Tale, which can be viewed on Hotstar, best epitomises a year dominated incrementally by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement. Fox frames this narrative around a story that delineates the presentation of a memory shrouded in layers of romance, guilt, agony and self-loathing, which, when unravelled, finds a form of its own.

Here, Laura Dern plays filmmaker Jennifer Fox. The film begins with Fox's elderly mother (Ellen Burstyn) discovering a story written by her daughter years ago in an English class. The letter, titled The Tale, details the relationship she once had with an older man (Jason Ritter) and a woman (Elizabeth Debicki) at the horse farm where she spent her summers.

The girl's account is rosy, but her mother is convinced that her daughter was raped and confronts Jennifer, now 48, about it. Having blocked the truth under romantic illusions for so many years, Jennifer resists that definition, and argues that her mother just doesn't understand. But from within herself, she feels the need to unravel the truth behind that nostalgic account. Soon, she becomes obsessed with delving into her past and tracking down the people involved.

The form changes thereafter with the narrative merging into a dialogue questioning the elusive nature of memory. Initially flashy and beautifully represented, Fox's narrative starts getting hazy with contradictory information, and then resolves to something infinitely devastating. The director assuredly guides us through the confusion while preparing us for the eventual decryption of that initial romantic allusion.

The build-up of emotion and rage is subtle, and gains momentum as the reveals get clearer. Dern manages to convey the complex nature of the survivor's psyche with a rare finesse. Combined with Fox's analytic approach, the story steadily revs up to a devastation that is all the more powerful, as it coolly sheds the cobwebs that have shrouded the actual truth over the years.

Watch The Tale Trailer

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