An anthology film composed of six standalone shorts united by a common theme of violence and vengeance
‘Wild Tales’ is a raucous collection of 6 short films from Argentina, directed by Damian Szifron and produced by Pedro Almodovar, centred around the themes of violence and vengeance. The film was nominated for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars (losing to the more conventional ‘Ida’) and was spectacularly received in its native Argentina, both critically and commercially. As with any film split into different ‘short’ films, the quality varies, but ‘Wild Tales’ manages to mesh all these tales together into a wider story about the laws that govern us, revenge, violence and the class system to create a darkly humorous treat.
Overall, all of the short films are funny and enjoyable, with all serving a purpose to build on the overarching themes developed by Szifron, but there are a couple of particular highlights. The standout sequence for me is the third piece (‘El más fuerte’) focusing on two men driving on a highway, who get into a conflict initially driven by one car looking to overtake the other. This piece is a hilarious tale of the building stages of rage and the need for one upmanship and it builds to a magnificent punchline. The sequence makes use of comical dialogue, slapstick and sight gags, and it provides the biggest laughs of the film, if not the wider social commentary of the two sections that follow it. This is when the film really kicks into gear after two shorter sequences, including the opening sequence (‘Pasternak’) which is perhaps a bit untimely given the air crash in the Alps recently (although still funny in this film’s context)
Ricardo Darin was excellent in the Oscar winning ‘The Secret in their Eyes’ and he is the strongest performer throughout the film as an engineer becoming completely exasperated by bureaucracy after his car is towed unfairly in the fourth section (‘Bombita’). The building stages of his anger are over the top and extreme, but there’s not a single audience member who won’t be able to sympathise with his escalating frustration at the stupidity of the systems and structures surrounding us. In addition to these stories, we also have a sequence in a café where the staff debate whether or not to poison a customer (‘Las Ratas’), a hit and run accident that leads to a discussion over money when the rich father of the perpetrator tries to bribe his groundsman to take the blame (‘La Propuesta’), and a raucous conclusion at a wedding where various truths come to light (‘Hasta que la muerte nos separe’).
‘Wild Tales’ is a black comedy to savour, one of the funniest films of the year and a film I’d highly recommend checking it out.
Directed By: Damian Szifron
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Oscar Martinez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Erica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Juliete Zylberberg, Diego Gentile and Dario Grandinetti