Review by Bears Fonte
For years, advertising has done its worst to push consumers to one version of feminine beauty, usually an impossible standard that women living non-super-model lives have to struggle to approach. At the center of Fabian Forte’s DEAD MAN TELL HIS OWN TALE lies a fantastic premise, the possession of an ad-man who then suddenly flips his methodology to something more empowering to female consumers.
Angel (Diego Gentile) is a pathological liar and narcissistic adulterer. His assistants funnel would be models to him to ‘test’ before casting, all the while he compulsively lies to his wife and daughter at home. When his producer succumbs to some sort of vampiric curse, Angel becomes the next target. After a weird encounter in a bar full of women, he becomes a changed man. He is also dead. Cold and clammy and smelly and slowly rotting. His ads take on a more feminist agenda, much to the displeasure of his clients. And he also begins to treat the women in his life with respect.
The best thing about DEAD MAN TELLS HIS OWN TALE are the over-the-top ads Angel creates, both before and after his possession. Unfortunately, the film falls victim to too many unconnected ideas with no direction. Forte’s villains appear to be some sort of celtic witch cult, hell bent on … well that’s not clear. The endgame is murky. They seem to be possessing these men to do their bidding, possibly to remake society, but in the end it appears they just want to have them fall into a pit and die. And there is no rhyme or reason to who they are possessing, as we eventually have a scene where a number of possessed men are gathered to together to discuss their ailment (side note, this scene is ridiculously long, like seven minutes, in which nothing happens, felt like something from another era). And the details of the possession are odd – is it a bite? Is it a cursed necklace?
Don’t get me wrong, the film has moments of great comedy – often derived from ‘Liar Liar’ humor, in which the lead character is unable to act in the manner we have seen him in the first act. But Angel never really grows as a character, and even if he did, it would have very little effect on the plot, which is minimal. The film seems more concerned with making little (but much deserved) jokes at the misogyny of Argentine culture than having any forward momentum. When your lead character becomes a pawn with none of his own goals, it is very hard to tie up a film with any satisfaction.
Still, DEAD MAN TELLS HIS OWN TALE is a delightful night in the cinema, even if it sort of peters out at the end, much like Angel’s once lurid love life.
DEAD MAN TELLS HIS OWN TALE just screened as part of Fantasia International Film Festival.