Wild Tales

Wild Tales ★★★★

“If poison reaches its expiration date, does that mean that it is more or less effective?”

Wild Tales (Relatos Salvages), written and directed by Damian Szifron, is Argentina’s official submission in the category of best foreign language film for next year’s Academy Awards. I find it hard to review these anthology films at times considering some of the short stories work really well while others don’t. In Wild Tales, Szifron manages to structure the film beautifully into six stories with a great sense of pacing and storytelling. The two hours flew by and I never found any of the stories tedious or boring. When making an anthology it is important that you establish an important connection between each story, and Szifron manages to do just that. Each story focuses on characters who in some way seem to lose control and act out on impulse or revenge. It’s a film about our reactions and how we can behave as animals at times. Szifron manages to set a dark tone in each of his stories while keeping the audience in suspense during some scenes and exploding in laughter during others. It is a perfect example of a dark comedy that manages to maintain the thrills throughout the narrative. Szifron plays with the genre conventions and balances the different tones of the film very well. It’s hard to point out a weak link because each story brings something different to the film, but at the same time they all feel connected. Szifron cleverly satirizes different institutions in each of his six segments including marriage, justice, bureaucracy, and social classes. Wild Tales is a well executed and entertaining film, and one that might turn out to be a contender at next year’s Oscars.

One major issue with anthology films is that since they are separate short stories we get little time to invest in each of the characters, but somehow Szifron manages to establish each character in each scenario so well that we end up caring for them. The performances are all solid. The only familiar face in the cast is Ricardo Darin who delivers his segment extremely well. He plays a disillusioned character who is tired of the bureaucracy in his country. It doesn’t take much to see him explode and we see how one small incident escalates into an overblown reaction. As much as I enjoyed that segment, it wasn’t the most memorable one. I was a huge fan of the road rage segment, which in my opinion was the highlight of this film. Leonardo Sbaraglia and Walter Donado give terrific performances as they are placed on an everyday scenario in the road which very quickly escalates into cartoonish violence. I could go on mentioning the rest of the segments, but they are all worthwhile. This was a perfectly executed black comedy and one worth checking out.

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