Jennifer Fox’s Autobiographical ‘The Tale’ Is A Movie For The #TimesUp Moment – Sundance Studio

Backed by strong performances from Laura Dern and Isabelle Nélisse (Mama), Jennifer Fox’s The Tale is a powerful Sundance movie that demands attention as the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements continue to shed light on stories of abuse.

Fox’s film is autobiographical in the most exacting detail, to the point that Dern and Nélisse play the character of ‘Jennifer Fox’ at different ages: Dern as the documentary-filmmaker adult who rediscovers ‘The Tale’ a story written by the then 13-year-old Fox (Nélisse) who speaks of her first love. That man is a 40-year-old running coach Bill (played by Jason Ritter), but in the young Fox’s tale, their relationship has been framed as entirely consensual and loving. It is only as the older Fox reexamines her past that it occurs to her that she was groomed and abused by Bill, and 40 years of pain bubble to the surface. Her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and boyfriend (Common, in a small but touchingly realized role) help her come to terms with the truth she discovers.

In fact, the film is based on the very same story referenced within; a missive written by the 13-year-old Fox for her English class. In a touching interview at Deadline’s Sundance studio, she joined the cast to explain more. She had thought of the story as a film for a while. But, “it wasn’t until my 40s that I thought, OK, now I’m ready and have the maturity to do it,” Fox told me. “There was a lightbulb moment when I was making another film about women all around the world, and it was not about abuse but every other woman had an abuse story and it didn’t matter what class, it didn’t matter what culture, it didn’t matter the color. Their stories just floored me because they had a system or a paradigm that looked like my story, and suddenly I couldn’t see it as my own private little narrative.”

Check out more in the video above.

The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.

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