The story is both overwrought and underdeveloped, with potentially important plot details insufficiently explained or left out altogether.
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Even if the impact Bad Tales creates ultimately feels cheap, there’s no denying the force and expert construction of it.
Surprising, disconcerting and droll, this Italo-Swiss co-prod packs the grotesquerie of an Ulrich Seidl film minus the sex, plus vivid acting. Its weakest link is on the narrative level.
Provocative Italian feature Bad Tales is one of those films that aren’t afraid to confront you with the grimmest aspects of the human condition, but yet leave you feeling strangely exalted by the sheer cinematic invention involved.
It is a superbly shot, viscerally acted ensemble drama.
Drowning in style but shallow in substance.
As a curdled storybook, Bad Tales is highly watchable. The problem is that the brothers aren’t telling stories fueled by powerful characters; they’re staging awkward cruelties as if for a gallery show.
Parental indifference is not attuned to the looming tragedy in this horribly compelling fable.
Narration, as the film reminds us, isn’t only a diversion but a form of authority, of power, and when authority is least conspicuous, it’s often at its most insidious.