Quick Thoughts: The Tale (2018)
A middle-aged woman attempts to remember a summer she spent training to ride a horse when she was 13-years-old.
The Tale is a deeply challenging film that performs the "pull off the tablecloth" trick with its audience's emotions placed daintily upon a surface of narrative before having expectations torn from underneath them. Force to see this in slow motion, to witness a so-so drama give way to an inarticulably wrought venture into a shrouded past, a kind of fear, white and pale, emerges from the depths of your chest cavity, by the end of the film, leaving you feeling like a hollow house of cloth threatened by howling winds.
What makes this harrowed sensation substantial is the fact that it is born of empathetic understanding; an outcome of the narrative's time-impressionism. It is then coming to terms with the liquid mask that is our protagonist's memory that we explicitly confront the sexual abuse of a minor and its affect on her adulthood. And it is adulthood that always overlooks this narrative with every lapse of memory or false remembrance signifying the manner in which our protagonist is damaged. Simultaneously, however, childhood naivety calls out for understanding. And so the two forces of the narrative begin to pull at you as you watch, endeavouring to find out the truth and act with moral composure yet also understanding how a child was coerced into a sexual relationship as an young teen, understanding how she justified such coercion and how it masked holes in her life that many of us would be familiar with. There then arises a feeling of horror when you grow to understand elements of this story such as not feeling special and being made to feel special by what a child does not see to be abuse. Most would have felt the yearning to be special throughout their childhood, but, to see such a common sensation of alienation and desire exploited is unambiguously terrifying. It is this that makes the endeavour for the truth so necessary, yet also such a haze of unknowing. Moreover, it is this terror that leaves you feeling routed out and hollow. But, as uncomfortable as this state is, it seems to signify that, in some way and to some degree, we comprehend the change that our protagonist - who is a representation of our director - has struggled with.
Whilst this The Tale robbed me of articulation and even coherent thought for such a long time, it is a film all too easily stepped into that is, itself, abundantly coherent and devastatingly expressive. I can only then urge you to see this with warning of the punch that awaits you.
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