By Leslie Byron Pitt @Afrofilmviewer
After a more than favourable year at Cannes and the Academy Awards, Wild Tales finally lands itself on Home Release for members of the great unwashed like myself. While the likes of Mark Kermode and Peter Bradshaw have kind words with this vengeful, dark comedy. I found despite some laughs along the way, my enjoyment of the Wild Tales to be wildly inconsistent.
The set-up is an intriguing one. An anthology of six twisted tales of the Argentine class war descending into meltdown, opening with a blackly funny short involving a slighted young man’s retribution towards the various people that wrong him throughout his life. The only thing that mars this outrageous first segment, is the tragic events that occurred on board the Germanwings Alps flight. Something that’s unfortunately hard to separate as art coincidentally lifts elements from life.
“The Rats”, the films second segment, drops in comedic quality as we are suddenly exported to a lonely café in which a young woman considers a vengeful plot to murder a former loan shark turned political candidate. The idea is a perfect set up for some inventive twists and tension. However director Damián Szifron keeps the story on rails and finishes thing rather conventionally.
Things pick up with “The Strongest”. In which two drivers get more than they bargained for when they decide to indulge fully on their road rage. The segment not only features some of the most complex set ups, but also carries some of the best laughs. The segment takes a strong hold of the elements of isolation and confrontation and distils the class issues down to its most primal. “The Strongest” also leaves us with the strongest punchline.
“Little Bomb” lands us into Gilliam-style territory with a droll tale of red tape and bureaucratic madness. Ricardo Darín (The Secrets in their Eyes), finds himself trapped in a labyrinthine nightmare of wrongly issued parking tickets and muppet-like customer service. The film’s most known star sells himself well as the well-meaning yet ill-tempered family man. His final resolution to his situation is near guaranteed to have one or two nodding in agreement, although the film’s actual outcome stumbles and becomes awkward.
“The Proposal” is a hit and run tale which best highlights the encompassing theme of all the stories. The short starts grimly with a rich teen killing a pregnant woman in his father’s car. From then on it never gets better as we’re pulled into a world of grimy, money grubbing lawyers and underhanded dealings involving a lowly, yet opportunistic caretaker. The corruption is rife throughout but the all too serious tone and unsatisfying ending leave an all too bitter taste in the mouth.
Wild Tales picks up in its final short “Until Death Do Us Part”. In which a bride becomes unhinged when she discovers that her Bradley Cooper lookalike groom has been cheating on her. Here Szifron piles as much as he can into the final piece of the package. “Until Death” has the most character to it, but its bittersweet finish, while suited to much of the anthology’s tone, doesn’t feel like the final send-off that it could have been.
This seems to be Wild Tales in a nutshell, a group of neatly packaged yarns, which do well to shed light on corrupt councils, class systems and the lust for violence that lies dormant in all of us. However one shouldn’t expect Kind Hearts and Coronets. That said, when was the last time us Brits came up with anything like this? 1949 seems even further away.
The DVD extras for Wild Tales include a 23 minute making of, which highlights Damián Szifron as a ambitious and creative director and also features Pedro Almodovar detailing his love of the project. There is also an interview with Szifron at a Q and A of the film and a trailer.
Wild Tales was released on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD on June 15th.