Title: The Tale
Director: Jennifer Fox
Starring: Laura Dern, Elizabeth Debicki, Ellen Burstyn, Frances Conroy, Jason Ritter
Runtime: 1hr 54min
What It Is: In this autobiographical drama, documentarian and professor Jennifer Fox (Dern) finds herself irresistibly caught up in the past. By interviewing several figures she had been involved with as a child, Jennifer investigates and confronts events and the extent to which they truly traumatized her.
What We Think: Yes, this really happened to the real documentarian and directress Jennifer Fox. Her reflective picture stands out as a horrifyingly real story that understands the ins-and-outs of this sort of the subject, contemplating the effects on people suffering the relentlessness of abuse (over time and generations alike). This is an obviously personal film as it feels almost composed like a stream of consciousness of Jennifer’s as she attempts in calculating the reasons behind and consequences of her sexual abuse, at many points in the film imagining interviewing her abusers and herself as a girl. And—yes—the film is as graphic as it is in-depth. The successful delivery of a general sense of bitterness and regret aside, the film still has issues in which do impact the potency of the viewing experience. Though it’s a subject that can (and, frankly, most of the time will) speak for itself, the technical delivery as a whole was a tad rough and made it hard to pay attention all throughout.
Our Grade: C, The story is here, but it tends to overstay its welcome a bit with dry visuals, occasionally dull writing, and what feels like too long a runtime. The performances are fine—Debicki is great, as usual—but there’s still something that’s missing from this film in order to make it memorable past the fact that it’s about something so horrible and isolating and real. To its credit, it serves, but as a film, it merely passes as it certainly feels fit for television.