Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) is an Argentinian movie by director Damián Szifron, comprised of six short stories, all of them sporting a darkly comedic tone. It’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t follow the usual pattern of telling one single, connected story on its runtime, and still have it be as visceral and emotionally resonant, not to mention hilarious and ruthlessly entertaining, as this one.
All of the stories deal with a dark subject matter, from revenge to murder, from cheating couples to deranged sociopaths. They are unrelated stories (except from them sharing a brooding sense of discomfort), and going into too much detail would spoil the fun and twists each short has. Each segment takes place in a different setting, with a new set of equally complex characters, and each stands on its own as a fantastic short film. The movie is best seen without knowing much, which is how I saw it, and I think no trailer can show what it’s really about, especially with so many tales and so little time.
It’s a very adult film. Not only because of its display of violent acts, but also because of the very questionable morality most of its characters show. Whether it’s a demolitions expert or a groom to be, at one point during their short screen time they all belong to the worst mankind has to offer. The fact that we, more often than not, root for them, is all the more impressive.
And that brings us to the acting. An incredibly vast cast, headlined by the always reliable Ricardo Darín (also known as “the only Argentinian actor, ever” as he, well, has always been on the most famous Argentinian films since I can remember), convey every emotion and heinous act with such glee, that you wonder whether you should feel terrified or laugh out loud. It’s that rare opportunity where you go to the cinema and you wonder if your mind is wrong and plain evil, but then you realise most of the audience seems to be feeling the same way. Lose hope in the human race? Nah, just enjoy the wild ride.
In a very short time, Damian manages to make us connect with these individuals and feel horrified with their (at times, impossible) choices. And that’s what I reckon has made this film such a hit. You don’t need me to tell you it’s good, it received massive accolades in Cannes, and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars (losing to Ida). It’s always great to see South American talent come and explode on a worldwide basis with such a bang.
And what a bang. That’s what it feels like when it’s over. Like your mind has been, shot six times in a row. And the explosion is totally worth it. I saw this film back in October, and its “wild tales” still resonate. Go see it. You will not be disappointed, though you might question what is wrong with you that made you enjoy it so much.
Wild Tales will be in UK cinemas on 25th March 2015.