Wild Tales

The slogan on the Spanish poster of the Argentine film Wild Tales (2014) or Relatos Salvajes reads “We all have our animal side” and it certainly lives up to its promise of savage stories so rabid that they seem to be more closely related to the primal behavior of the animal kingdom. 

Oscar contender for Best Foreign film, Wild Tales is a collection of six short films that take place in various locations around present day Argentina with a running theme of how frustrated people in bizarre situations can explode, losing all civilized pretensions and inhibitions.

These daring revenge stories begin innocently enough; a casual conversation between travelers on an airplane, a waitress serving a patron in a roadside diner, a driver enjoying a scenic ride on a winding highway through the mountains, a demolition engineer picking up a birthday cake for his daughter’s birthday party, a newlywed couple enjoying their wedding reception, but these events suddenly erupt absurdly out of control beyond what anyone would imagine possible.

The violent tales of operatic mayhem are exhilarating, depicting such common frustrating occurrences in contemporary Argentine society as having your car towed for no reason and having to pay to get it back, or dealing with road rage when confronted by a driver who gets under your skin, or the corruption of the callous wealthy who have no regard for the less fortunate, or discovering your husband’s infidelity on your wedding day.

I’ve heard many stories or urban legends of the volatile Argentine temperament and the frustration with a corrupt justice system that prompt people to settle their own disputes often in violent ways. But until now I have not actually witnessed a depiction of what director Damián Szifrón from Buenos Aires has said he personally experienced in similar shocking situations.

The film is a high octane, often insanely hilarious and outrageous black comedy with Pulp Fiction (1994) inspired energy and humor but without using any guns. You almost expect Dick Dale’s surfer rock rendition of ‘Misirlou’ to play after the opening sequence. The mostly Spanish audience I saw it with, were in stitches from the opening segment to the end.

Visually, all the episodes are innovatively presented adding a bold visual dimension that gives the film a polished sophisticated look. But it’s clearly the authentic engaging performances by the ensemble cast that give the film its powerful satiric punch.

Two of my favorite segments, one called ‘Bombita’, stars the superb Argentine actor Ricardo Darin who is well-known for his roles in Nine Queens (2000), The Aura (2005), and The Secret in Their Eyes (2009). 

Another great segment involving road rage is called ‘Road to Hell’ and stars Leonardo Sbaraglia, who I recently saw in another Argentine film called Aire Libre (2014) – click on link to read my review - at the Toronto International Film Festival, is one of the funniest things you’ll ever see.

Wild Tales has been playing the festival circuit to enthusiastic crowds and critical acclaim around the world since it was first shown at the Cannes film festival in May 2014. Its intense brutal action stands out, making for a truly gripping experience that’s not afraid to show humans at our most vulnerable and barbarous.

Make this brilliant, hysterically courageous film a must-see and judge for yourself. It’s an unforgettable experience that will not disappoint.


1 comment:

Shiran said...

Nice review, Looking forward to seeing this movie.