They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and in the case of the the new Argentinean film Wild Tales, that can be damn cold indeed.
It’s a blacker than black comedy about six stories looped together under the theme of vengeance. It was one of the most buzzed about films at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and it was also director Damián Szifrón’s third feature. An avenge anthology, the film is part comedy part drama, and frequently weaves the two together in a messy and often ridiculous manner.
Each story in this hilarious compendium is a cathartic exploration of the pressures of the modern world, and as far as current foreign firms are concerned, is unparalleled in its entertainment value and dark wit. Never before has a film about love, deception, tragedy, and even violence, been so satisfying, as the inevitable result of losing complete control climaxes in each story to outrageous heights.
The collage of coincidence kicks off 30,000 feet in the air with a plane full of passengers in ‘Pasternak’. Smalltalk turns to terror when everyone onboard realises they have a connection to a failed musician (whose surname is the episode title) who turns out to be flying the aircraft. You have to take into consideration that this scene was done and dusted well before the tragic Germanwings crash disaster earlier this year, and although mental illness and high flying is no laughing matter, this snippet of script is extremely well written and delivered.
Next on the agenda is ‘The Rats’ featuring a roadside diner waitress Moza (doe-eyed Julieta Zylberberg) who discovers that her boorish and bullish late-night customer (César Bordón) is the man who ruined her life. Detailing the list of wrongdoings he inflicted upon her family when she was younger to her frightening boss Coiner (an ex-inmate and cook played wonderfully deadpan by Rita Cortese) tries to convince her to put rat poison in his meal. What follows is a terrific and terrifying tussle for revenge and forgiveness – and hot chips, of course.
One of the most full-on stories is the road rage segment entitled ‘The Strongest’. When flash businessman Diego (Leonardo Sbaraglia) overtakes a slow motorist on a country highway and calls his a “damn redneck” he doesn’t anticipated the dangerous and doomed dance the two will later play in a fight to the death. Flannelette and crowbar toting Walter Donado is heart-racingly good as the angered driver who’ll go to extraordinary lengths to terrorise his assailant.
Next up, a man takes revenge on Buenos Aires’ draconian parking regulations by staging a spectacular act of protest – ‘Little Bomb’. Simon (Ricardo Darín) is a mild-mannered engineer whose wife is fed-up with for his lack of punctuality when it comes to family events (i.e his daughter’s birthday). Following a heated dispute with a towing company, Simon utilises the only skill he has to make a statement and win but the respect of his family, and his city.
The second-last instalment ‘The Proposal’ is of a much darker nature than the previous four. A wealthy man attempts to convince his groundsman to take the rap for a crime he didn’t commit. When the son of a wealthy man kills a pregnant woman in a late-night hit and run, his father concocts an elaborate plan to make their loyal groundsman take the rap. Argentinean veteran actor, author and theatre director Oscar Martinez is wonderful as the troubled and protective dad, emitting just the right amount of madness and mutiny Wild Tales demands.
In the style of the debaucherous 1987 American film Fatal Attraction, ‘Until Death Do Us Part’ is a rancid romp through a botched wedding day. When gorgeous brunette bride-to-be Romina discovers that her new husband Ariel (a face punch worthy Diego Gentile) has been cheating on her, she takes him and the rest of their wedding brigade on an emotional roller coaster of hospitalising heights. Actress Erica Rivas steals every scene in her bloodstained wedding dress, shaming but also re-seducing her cheating beau in front of family and friends. Let’s just say a bouquet and wedding cake have never looked so dangerous!
Wild Tales is essentially a tongue-in-cheek social satire masquerading as cinema. It starts off with a bang, and each tale gets slightly longer, but also slightly less interesting than the next (‘Until Death Do Us Part’ being the least enjoyable because the ending lacks the same sting in the tail as the rest). Overall, Wild Tales is beautifully shot and balanced for maximum suspense meets spoof action, with an eccentric tapestry of colourful characters that will tug at your heart strings one minute, and punch you in the gut the next!
Wild Tales is in its final weeks at Cinema Nova