The Tale (2018)
In this autobiographical film written and directed by Jennifer Fox, we're taken on a soul-searching memory-travel together with the Jenny character, played by Laura Dern in present time and by Isabelle Nélisse in flashback scenes. Fox' starting point here is our untrustworthy memory, and how it may have processed and stored experiences and situations in order to protect us, or for us to persevere. This idea is not novel, but Fox' way of presenting it cinematically via various flashback scenes and alternate versions of storylines is a little bit groundbreaking. Whether or not it works for you probably depends on whether you're interested in the concept itself. And to make matters even more challenging, the main subject of Jenny's childhood is her special relationship with two adult coaches: her riding instructor Mrs. G (Elisabeth Debicki) and her running coach Bill (Jason Ritter).
The Tale is an ambitious, stripped-down dissection of the protagonist's childhood/adolescence. It's unapologetic and harsh. And – more importantly – largely uninterested in what society or other interested or semi-interested parties may have to say. This is Jenny Fox' story, and she – both the character and the filmmaker – takes full ownership over it. The film is crowned by magnificent performances. Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse, Ellen Burstyn and Jason Ritter all put their heart and soul into their parts. Nélisse is a special talent with more sensibility than one can reasonably expect from someone her age. And Ritter gives Bill a humanity and fragility which usually is unheard of in parts like his. There's also fine acting Elizabeth Debicki and Frances Conroy as Mrs. G. The movie won the Satellite Award for Best Television Film. Filmed in 2015.