The Tale of King Crab

(Italy/Argentina/2021—directed by Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis) 

This rich, engrossing fiction feature debut from directors Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis takes storytelling itself as its subject. Based on a legendary figure about whom the filmmakers first heard while making a 2015 documentary, this rousing, two-part tale follows the improbable adventures of Luciano (a galvanizing performance from Gabriele Silli), a village outcast in late-19th-century rural Italy. In the film’s first half, set in the countryside near Rome, Luciano’s life is undone by alcohol, forbidden love, and a resulting quarrel with a local aristocrat; as the dispute escalates, Luciano is exiled to the distant Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego.

There, with the aid of ruthless gold-diggers—not to mention the indispensable help of a remarkable crab that serves as a compass—he searches for a mythical treasure, paving his way toward redemption. With The Tale of King Crab, Rigo de Righi and Zoppis have created an unconventional and thoroughly original fable, juxtaposing images of cinematic grandeur with folkloric idiosyncrasy. In Italian and Spanish with English subtitles. (106 minutes) 

“A magical, shape-shifting fable.” –Rory O’Connor, The Film Stage 

“One of the secret cinematic jewels of the year.” –Ayeen Forootan, InReview