Wild Tales, 2015.
Directed by Damián Szifron.
Starring Darío Grandinetti, María Marull, Mónica Villa, Ricardo Darín and Erica Rivas.
Six stories of revenge and losing your cool when everything is stacked up against you.
Anthology films have been reasonably well served recently, if not always in quality then at least in number. Argentinean production Wild Tales is thankfully one of the better ones, serving up six short stories that all involve everyday occurrences being blown out of proportion until somebody snaps, bringing in a revenge/retribution element to top things off.
The opening short, Pasternak, is the weakest of the bunch but is still a fun, Twilight Zone-esque tale that sees a pretty model taking a trip aboard a plane. She strikes up conversation with a fellow passenger and the chat reveals that the model’s ex-boyfriend once had a musical piece ridiculed by the music critic she is now talking to, but the coincidence does not end there as other passengers reveal they too know said ex-boyfriend. And who exactly is flying the plane…?
The Rats follows and condenses a gangster-style plot down into a few minutes with a corrupt official running for mayor being terribly rude to the waitress in the diner he is eating in. Unbeknownst to him the waitress is the daughter of somebody he forced into suicide due to his greed, and there just happens to be a box of rat poison sitting in the kitchen and a chef all too keen to add a new recipe to the menu. Again, it’s a little bit late night TV-ish but it amps things up from the previous segment and there is a wicked streak of dark humour running through it.
Road to Hell is probably the best of the bunch in terms of giving you a basic revenge story. Riffing off of 1970s grindhouse road movies, this section sees an arrogant city worker driving out in the sticks who gives the finger to a redneck driver who holds him up. All well and good until he gets a flat tyre further down the road and the redneck catches up with him, and then the brown stuff really hits the fan – quite literally! Funny, violent and tense, Road to Hell covers all the bases and makes you wish for a full movie of this quality.
Upping the satire, Bombita is a story about an explosives engineer called Simon whose car gets towed away while he picks up the cake for his daughter’s birthday party. Missing the party due to arguing with the authorities he gets his car back but when he goes to pay the ticket he loses his cool, beginning a chain of events that sees the once respected engineer lose his job, his family and his car (again), and forcing him to play what he sees as the fascist authorities at their own game. It’s a well written and acted short that packs a lot into its running time and manages to get you fully invested in Simon’s plight.
Another involving story is The Deal, where the son of a rich family knocks down a pregnant woman in his father’s car and doesn’t stop to see if she’s alright, instead rushing home to mum and dad. His father offers their cash-strapped gardener $500,000 to take the rap on behalf of his whiny offspring and offers him the services of the family lawyer to barter a deal that will see him serve about 18 months but he will be set for life when he gets out. However, once the lawyers, prosecutors and the gardener all start upping their share of the deal it’s up to the put-upon father to strike a deal of his own.
Which leads to the final segment, Till Death Us Do Part. At her wedding reception, bride Romina discovers her new husband had cheated on her with one of the guests before the wedding. Romina quite rightly goes beserk and threatens all manner of dastardly things to make sure she can kick her new husband where it hurts him the most, i.e. in his inheritance from his rich family. It’s a manic and mad tale, made all the better by some equally bonkers performances and a huge sense of relief once it’s over as it drags not only the guests at the wedding but also the viewing audience through a whole series of emotions and allegiances before the not entirely unexpected but welcome ending.
What makes Wild Tales work so well is that all of the segments are written and directed by the same person, giving the whole thing a feeling of consistency in terms of quality and execution. All of the segments work on their own but when placed one after the other there is a feeling of fluidity and escalation that shows writer/director Damián Szifron has a knack for suspense, and Wild Tales looks set to make a name for the filmmaker to build on. Highly recommended.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★