Wild Tales (dir. Damián Szifron) 2014

Relatos_salvajesFrom Argentina, in Spanish.  Screenplay by the director.

Six stories in this one movie all center on revenge.  The first story, “Pasternak,”  begins on an airplane. A beautiful fashion model needs help hoisting her bag into the overhead bin. A middle aged professor of music,  smitten with her looks,  obliges.  A brief flirtation ensues where the pair discover that they both knew a musician — Gabriel Pasternak — whose music the professor found execrable. This same man the model cheated on when he was her boyfriend.  Others in the plane overhear the conversation, and it turns out that they all knew Pasternak, and that he has reason to find fault with each of them.  One other detail that comes to light as the fashion model was boarding the plane: she had not booked her flights, so did not qualify for frequent flier miles. There are many diabolical ways to punish those who have done you wrong, and I did not see this one coming.

The second story, “Rats,”  is about a waitress whose sole customer one night she has reason to hate.  The cook in the kitchen sees this as an opportunity to get even.  Next comes a tale of road rage, “The Strongest,” the first of several of the stories to use a red canister of fire retardant as a weapon rather than as a life saver.   My personal favorite story, “Little bomb,” shows a man made mad by too many parking tickets.  The protagonist is a family man who makes his living as a demolitions expert, and the film opens with a scene of a perfectly executed destruction of a building that needs to be taken down.  We watch the lights flash as the timer begins the countdown to the beginning of the end of a large public building.  The man in charge of the demo is sure of himself, and walks out of the building slowly, unconcerned that soon where he just stood will be nothing but rubble.

Anyone frustrated by a municipal bureaucracy, especially the DMV, will be satisfied with how this man beset by unexplained tickets and callous people on the other side of the glass window decides to handle a perhaps corrupt system of ticketing.  He becomes a hero.  I had to refrain from applauding loudly myself at the resolution of that particular tale.

Carrying on the theme of corruption is the fifth tale, “The proposal,” where a rich teen’s parents try to figure out how to keep him from paying the price of a hit and run accident that killed a pregnant woman.  The proposal to hire a stand in for the villain results in many venal conspirators who forget the injured party at their peril.

Finally, “Till Death Do Us Part” takes place during a wedding reception, a party so big and vulgar it will give you a headache until the incisive director focuses on the bride as she deals with her discovery of the infidelity of her groom.  This tale threatens as all of them do to go out of control which is what makes the film so exhilarating.

All of the stories have a beginning, middle and end, and share a common sensibility.  There are elements of the macabre and wit, as if Edgar Allan Poe had suddenly developed a sense of humor.  I was not sure of any outcome.  Each story has a surprise ending.  I loved this movie, and cannot recommend it enough.


About Patricia Markert

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2 Responses to Wild Tales (dir. Damián Szifron) 2014

  1. philip jostrom says:

    Great Review. Really looking forward to seeing it.

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