Monday, March 9, 2015

[Review] Wild Tales

Damian Szifron's Wild Tales is an anthology picture of six short films. This Argentine-Spanish film earned an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language film this year. This collection of stories is farcical, satirical, violent, and yes, wildly entertaining.

- A woman makes her way through an airport and boards a plane. She sparks up a conversation with a fellow passenger, and eventually other passengers chime in. What starts out as fairly unassuming, turns into a full-blown crisis when they all realize they have one thing in common: They've wronged a guy named Gabriel in some way or another, and it just so happens that Gabriel is the captain of the flight (Ahhh!!!). This is more of an intro sketch, giving us a taste of what's to come.

- Set in a quiet cafe, a waitress encounters a severely unwanted customer (a corrupt politician that directly destroyed her family). The head cook (a woman reminiscent of Red from "Orange is the New Black") tries to convince her to put rat poison in his food. The suspense reaches queasy levels and builds to a very messy conclusion.

- Two men driving on a highway. Separate cars. They have a shouting altercation. And the ensuing events result in the perfect instance for a "Well that escalated quickly" meme. Calling this a case of road rage is an understatement.

- The fourth story casts Ricardo Darin, the lead from 2010's excellent Oscar winner, The Secret in Their Eyes. It revolves around a guy trying to sort through a number of government and insurance hurdles after his car gets towed. This one is more low-key than the previous pieces.

- The son of a wealthy family is involved in a hit & run accident, and his father attempts to pull some strings while scheming to put the crime on their gardener. And as you can probably guess, a lot of complications transpire.

- The grand finale takes place during a wedding reception. The glowing bride sees her new husband potentially flirting with another girl across the room, and all hell breaks loose. This ridiculously amusing piece feels like a proper send off.

Usually with anthology pieces, they risk a hit or miss/consistency aspect between the stories, but each one here is just as well-conceived as the other. Of course people might get more of a rise out of the rousing first couple of shorts, while the middle ones still remain engaging but enter a more subdued dramatic territory. Wild Tales is a study of madness, with shared themes of people getting pushed to the edge in the craziest of situations. There are protagonist/antagonist setups, but no one ever really succeeds. It comes down to the question of who got screwed the worst, as the lines of comedy and tragedy merge together. An exchange heard on the plane near the beginning sums it up the best:

"Work or pleasure?"
"Both things, I hope."


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