Written and directed by Damian Szifron, Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) is a film that definitely lives up to its namesake. Set in Argentina, the film is an anthology that revolves around six very different stories which all share themes of violence. It explores how people can either benefit from or succumb to acts of vengeance. Though told in a very straightforward manner, the film is anything but traditional. In fact it is downright gleeful in its absolutely bonkers approach to plane crashes, rat poison, car crashes, corruption, misuse of power, and wedding receptions.
The segments all differ in length as Szifron aims to up the ante with each tale. The sense of comedy and drama intensifies within each story. One segment features a music critic (Dario Grandanetti) who finds himself on airplane unaware that he and the several other passengers share a common connection. There is also the story of a man (Ricardo Darin) whose life is turned upside down after a series of incidents involving a tow truck.
The darker moments in Wild Tales arrive when a waitress (Julieta Zylberberg), at a roadside café, learns that the customer she is to serve is a man who ruined her life many years ago. Assisted by the café’s cook (Rita Cortese), the woman becomes determined to kill the man once and for all. Another tale offers a more tragic tone as the question of morality arises when a rich man’s son, his lawyer, a groundskeeper, and a prosecutor all cross paths. Greed comes into play when the groundskeeper (German de Silva) offers to take the fall for his boss for the right price. With everyone wanting their piece of the pie, the wealthy father (Oscar Martinez) finds himself pondering how much he is really willing to spend to protect his son.
There is also the story of two men (Leonardo Sbaraglia and Walter Donado) from different classes and lifestyles whose lives intersect in both violent and comical ways. However, their tale does not hold a candle to the craziness that erupts at the wedding reception for a newlywed couple (Erica Rivas and Diego Gentile). Thanks to the unraveling of secrets, the couple’s big day hilariously goes from bad to horrendous.
Aided by cinematographer Javier Julia, Damian Szifron manages to give each tale its own distinct look and feel. Gustavo Santaolalla’s rich score only helps to enhance the vibrant and diverse tones within the film. Szifron’s usage of close-ups and zoom shots provide an engaging feel to the dramatic moments and his occasional incorporation of dizzying camera work adds a sense of whimsy to the comedic moments.
Wild Tales is a phenomenal film that features a great cast and outrageous segments. It doesn’t just confirm Argentina’s status as one of the leading countries in Latin American cinema, but is also enthralling and accessible at the same time. In the end, Wild Tales is an incredible film from Damian Szifron.
© thevoid99 2015