Crazy, caustic, and ingeniously clever, Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales is an excellent Argentine selection box of intricate short stories.
Wildby Dave O'Flanagan
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category at this years Oscars, writer and director Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales is a gloriously caustic, transgressive and ingenious series of short stories. Produced by Pedro Almodóvar (and brother Agustín), it’s in many ways a distant relative to his 1988 breakout film, Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown. Szifrón’s film is a surreal examination of situations where the bounds of social inhibitors are discarded to indulge the very base emotions of man. Featuring the cream of the crop of Argentinian acting talent (including Ricardo Darín and Leonardo Sbaraglia), each of the stories is beautifully shot, perfectly structured and wonderfully acted.
Six unrelated stories are loosely connected by the common theme of revenge and outrageous circumstance. Envisaging a world where all of the violent thoughts we have about clamped cars or someone flipping the bird on your morning commute – Wild Tales revels in these moments and playfully subverts morality to allow the audience to enjoy the everyman enacting his unencumbered revenge.
As an experience, Wild Tales is one of those films where the less said about it the better. If you’re reading this review then you’ve been spared the frenetic, fun and gory little details. Attuned to the process of writing self-contained narratives from a career in Argentinian television, each of Szifrón’s stories are like guilty pleasures for the audience – indulging in the violent retribution we would (hopefully) envisage only in daydreams. The detail and nuance in each of the characters and narratives is remarkable for the limitations inherent in short story. Even more remarkable is the realisation of these ideas; each is beautifully shot and paced to perfection. The most unique and genuinely thrilling story featuring a vengeful road user is an unrelenting and darkly humorous twenty minutes of comic carnage.
Szifrón’s series of stories is a glowing example of the narrative and emotional depth attainable through the medium of short story. Each tale unrelated – apart from a healthy dose of revenge coursing through their veins – the freedom enables Szifrón to pump each segment full of as much ambition, madness and fantasy as possible. And it’s impressive how, in spite of the zippy narrative, each of the characters feels fully realised. The ingenuity of many of the film’s set-pieces is testament to a director with an obvious talent for compositional astuteness. Wickedly funny and thrilling to the last, Wild Tales does exactly what it says on the tin.
Wild Tales is released on 27th March 2015 in the UK