More than living up to its title, director Damián Szifron’s compendium of outrageous, hilarious and truly bizarre anecdotes offers a subversive, blackly comic portrait of contemporary Argentina.
Revenge is a dish best served wild. As its title suggests, Damian Szifron's latest feature, Wild Tales, is a compendium of outrageously bizarre stories, each more shocking and hilarious than the last. Blending subversive black comedy with dramatically loaded scenarios, Szifron skilfully weaves together six separate shorts, unlinked by narrative but unified by a violence that simmers on the cusp of explosion.
The opening short, Pasternak, plays a game of chance aboard an airplane whose passengers discover they all know the same failed musician. The flight's surprising conclusion prepares the viewer for the non-stop, suspense-tinged comedy that permeates the film. Road rage is a trigger for hilarity in the short Road to Hell. Unexpected endings continue in Dynamite; the audience will empathize with its eponymous hero (played by Argentine great Ricardo Darin) and his frustration with tow trucks and traffic tickets — even if his manner of dealing with them defies social norms and safety standards. The final and possibly funniest short, Till Death Do Us Part, portrays the mayhem that ensues during a wedding reception when the new bride discovers that her husband has recently cheated on her. Érica Rivas gives a no-holds-barred performance as a woman whose public display of emotion leaves many guests requiring hospitalization.
More than a series of short films about frustrated characters on the verge, Wild Tales is also a portrait of contemporary Argentina: a society riddled with corruption, hampered by bureaucracy, and bogged down by tradition. Szifron's film, by breaking down taboos and allowing its characters to say "fuck it all," provides a cathartic release from the pressures of modern-day living — a release that provokes unrestrained, double-over-in-your-seat laughter.