Review: Wild Tales

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If there is any lesson to be learned after seeing the very dark Argentinian comedy Wild Tales, it’s that karma is a bitch. The film, directed by Damian Szifron, is an anthology of six stories, each chronicling the dark side of the human soul, and dispensing punishment for transgressions.

Usually an anthology features different directors, but this is all Szifron, so there is a sameness to the vignettes, but I liked them all, chuckling like one might while reading an issue of Tales from the Crypt. There’s nothing supernatural going on, but there is a kind of justice going on, as if the grim reaper were just outside of the camera, egging everyone on.

The first story occurs before the credits, and is the shortest. A flight full of people come to discover the have something in common. The second, and the weakest, is when a waitress in a small diner recognizes the customer who walks in the door. This is a very nasty story and the ending didn’t work well. The third is like a particularly vicious Warner Brothers cartoon, as a man in a BMW insults a driver of a rundown vehicle as he passes him. When the Beemer guy gets a flat tire, well, I won’t say more but it becomes a fight to the death.

The fourth is about a demolitions expert (Richardo Darin, one of the biggest stars in Argentina) who’s life is completely  unraveled when his car gets towed. The action here is certainly exaggerated, but the fight between the individual and the bureaucracy is beautifully played, and many of us can take satisfaction in the tussle. The fifth involves a rich young man who commits hit and run murder. His father and lawyer try to arrange a deal so the family groundskeeper takes the rap, but greed and truculence interfere.

The last, and the longest and most lavish tale, involves a nightmare wedding. In a wonderful performance, Erica Rivas discovers, at her wedding, that the groom slept with one of the guests. Guys, here’s a tip–don’t invite women you’ve had affairs with to your wedding. Rivas takes a kind of delirious revenge, sleeping with one of the hotel staff and hurling the other woman into a mirror. It goes way over the top but has a perfect ending.

Wild Tales is a film for a certain sensibility. No one is particularly likable here–even Darin, the little guy fighting the system, is a hothead who should know better. This is comedy black as ink, so if you like it like that, it’s a must see.

My grade for Wild Tales: A-.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

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