Wild Tales – IMDB 225/250
It is another first for me in my long and arduous trek through the IMDb 250, as I got to watch my first ever Argentinian film, and if all their films are as good as this, I might have to dabble more in the Argentine market. Wild Tales is a 2014 dark comedy anthology film, telling six completely separate stories around seemingly everyday situations, all united by themes of revenge, violence, anger and frustration.
Expertly directed and put together by Damian Szifron, Wild Tales succeeds where the majority of Hollywood anthology films fail, such as 2016s Mother’s Day or the atrocious Movie 43 (2013), what I can only describe as the worst 98 minutes of my life sitting through it. Szifron does an excellent job of creating six unique stories, with characters and plots that you can invest in despite each story lasting no longer than 20 minutes.
Some of the best literature comes in the short story format, such as Henry James’ ‘Turn of the Screw‘ or even Charles Dickins’ ‘A Christmas Carol‘, and Wild Tales feel more like a well told piece of literature than it did a cheesy and clunky anthology film. As long as each scene is unique whilst staying in the overall theme of the film, it is well acted and the story intrigues, Szifron proves that anthology themes can really work. Just like ‘Love Actually‘ (2003) (Perhaps a bad example… but I don’t think so).
The first story ‘Pasternak’ is probably the weakest of the six, but as the film progresses each tale gets more interesting, well told and the darkly comedic aspects of each story comes into play. This all culminates in the final story, ‘Hasta que la muerte nos separe’, which tells the story of a bride finding out the groom has cheated on her with one of their guests at their wedding. Complete and utter madness soon prevails, but the story is as funny as it is tragic.
Although described as a black comedy I actually preferred Wild Tales for its drama, plot building and its excellent portrayal of frustration than I did for its overall comedy. With perhaps the exception of the last story it never really made me laugh out loud, but the sense of frustration in each story was palpable, I genuinely found myself getting annoyed with the situations the characters found themselves in. As one critic put it, each character seemed to be on the verge of a mental breakdown, fighting to stay calm and sane against the ridiculous and sometimes unfair situation they have been placed in.
For the most part it is a very dark story and as life can be sometimes it is very maddening, making the film very easy to invest in and relate to. Rage flows through the film and into the characters as they look to escape their individual fates. This maddening effect it had on me was helped by the wonderful acting from the likes of Ricardo Darin as Simon Fischer, a demolitions expert who looks to get out of a parking ticket, and Erica Rivas as Romina, the bride who descends into madness after discovering her husbands infidelity. These two performances helped make their stories the most memorable of the six.
Wild Tales won numerous awards in 2014 and deservedly so, including the Best Film Not in the English Language at the British Academy Film Awards, as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film, but it had completely escaped my knowledge or attention.
This goes right up there with Paris, Texas (1984) for the best film I’ve seen on this list that I had never heard of, let alone seen before, and was a really pleasant surprise for me. For anyone that can be bothered with the subtitles (or perhaps you speak Spanish), and wants to see their own projection of anger on screen, this is a film for you.
BEST ACTOR: ERICA RIVAS
BEST SCENE: The ending to ‘Hasta que la muerte nos separe’ will leave you surprised, and maybe wanting cake.
BEST STORY: ‘Bombita’ was the most frustrating tale, ‘El mas fuerte’ the most intense, but the best told was ‘Hasta que la muerte nos separe’.
Wild Tales: 8/10