Wild Tales

 

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Six short stories told on film all have an edge to them which is blacker than black as you might expect from the film’s title and the name of one of the co-producers.

 

The portmanteau film never seems to be far away. We have had anthologies including Ealing Studios’ Dead of Night, Somerset Maugham’s Quartet, Trio and Encore, Three Cases of Murder, with Orson Welles, Anthony Asquith’s The Yellow Rolls-Royce, Colonel March Investigates, with Boris Karloff, Steven Spielberg’s Twilight Zone: The Movie, and the Amicus Films anthologies, Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, Asylum and From Beyond the Grave among many others.

 

Wild Tales

Let there be cake: Erica Rivas

 

In Wild Tales writer-director Damián Szifrón presents six short stories about life’s little ironies, all of them brilliant with a wonderful ensemble cast to do justice to his imagination. It opens with Pasternak, in which every passenger on a plane seems to have some connection with the title character and, because of this, their fate is sealed, and not in a good way. The Rats is set in a diner where a customer turns up who happens to be the loan shark who ruined the waitress’s family. Question: how to get rid of him? Poison, suggests the old cook and then takes matters into her own hands – literally. The Strongest One depicts a road rage fight between two stubborn drivers each trying to outdo the other in a situation that ends in tragedy for all. In Little Bomb an engineer sees his car being towed away for illegal parking, so he sets off a chain of events to bring about total mayhem. The Proposal tells of the son of a rich family involved in a car accident in which he kills a pregnant woman. The family’s oddjob man is happy to take the blame for a payment, but further complications ensue as the lawyers and the police have their own ideas. Finally, Until Death Us Do Part sees a newly married bride finding out that her husband has been cheating on her. Once again it is payback time…

 

These six so-called Wild Tales could actually be called ‘Tragic Tales’ without altering their description. However, what Szifrón has done is to show the ‘funny’ side, the irony behind the situations he depicts with great originality and totally black humour. Pasternak, a man despised by everybody decides to get his own back in an elaborate joke that ends in doom, while a waitress and a cook dispose of a man in the goriest way imaginable. A road rage incident leads to the ultimate unhappy ending, then bureaucracy gets its comeuppance over a single parking ticket. Extortion rears its ugly head as a family tries not to lose face by passing the blame onto another. As a coda to this sextet of black comedies adultery gets more than its due punishment. Comedy? Tragedy? It’s a fine line that divides them and Szifrón has dealt his characters a fate worse than death – tragedy that has us laughing our heads off. (Original title: Relatos salvajes)

 

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Cast: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Rita Cortese, María Onetto, Oscar Martinez, Ricardo Darín, Erica Rivas, Julieta Zylberberg, Dario Grandinetti, Nancy Duplas, Walter Donado.

 

Dir and Screenplay Damián Szifrón, Pro Agustin and Pedro Almodóvar, Esther Garcia, Matías Mosteirín and Hugo Sigman, Ph Javier Julia, Pro Des Maria Clara Notari, Ed Szifrón and Pablo Barbieri Carrera, M Gustavo Santaolalla, Cos Ruth Fischerman.

 

Corner Producciones/El Deseo/Kramer & Sigman Films etc-Curzon-Artificial Eye.

122 mins. Argentina/Spain. 2014. Rel: 27 March 2015. Cert. 15.