WILD TALES (Relatos salvajes) [2014]

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Directed and Written by Damián Szifrón

Starring: Darío Grandinetti, María Marull, Mónica Villa

I like my comedy dark. I like to laugh and then feel ashamed for having laughed at what I did. This is how I am, I am a sick man. Happily, the movie industry caters for my tastes, sometimes unintentionally, but not so here. As per the title, the film is actually six short films that all fly by, all incredibly captured, and connecting each is the surreal and the bizarre. The wild nature of each situation pushes normal people beyond the point of logic, causing them to lash out in revenge, caving into that beast we try to tame that we call emotion. Could any of these events ever occur, and if they did, could people act in such absurd ways? Therein lies the notion that will dictate how you enjoy this film. Will you empathise with these people driven beyond reason, or will you laugh at their hopelessness? Personally, I giggled like an idiot.

The first short is actually before the main credits, but it is memorable enough. It is extremely well written, every character introduced is interesting or memorable in some way. My favourite was a music critic who, in his words, when he tears someone’s piece and self esteem to shreds as a critic, he is “protecting the ears of the population”. Soon it becomes apparent that a “cosmic connection” is happening, as everyone on the flight seems to know of this man, ‘Pasternak’, the man whose music thesis was torn apart. What I found funny was the sense of Chinese Whispers; in each subsequent story told about Pasternak by yet another person who knows him, he transforms from an aspiring if not unskilled musician into a ‘psycho’. Again I must commend the writing here, another favourite of mine was a former psychiatrist of Pasternak who mentions he had raised his fees, to Pasternak’s obvious irritation. Lots of chuckles here.

WildTales000077-0-800-0-450-cropThe second film is probably the weakest of the three, probably because it is the most believable and realistic. The rest of the film has a very surreal atmosphere, so this film feels a little out of place. It does though maintain the great writing, with a real bastard of a politician dining in a restaurant where an ex-con works behind the counter. It also maintains retain the dark humour, most prominently in the older woman’s attitude in general, especially when talking about her time spent in prison.

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The next short would have to be my favourite, this is where the movie is at its most bizarre. A play on class division, a man in his Audi can’t get past an older car going slowly in front of him, and further still, when he tries to overtake the other drive swerves to stop him. He finally gets past, letting his thoughts be heard. This is a great take on how people seem to feel invincible in a car; how they will often say almost anything about another driver if they get cut off, things they wouldn’t say to a man’s face. Unfortunately for the man and his Audi, he gets a flat tire, and soon enough his friend from earlier comes around to say hello. After the two meet it doesn’t take long for the fireworks to go off. Revel in the insanity and laugh at the final scene!

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The fourth film is one almost everyone can identify with – paying parking violations that may not be warranted, but the power is always in someone else’s hands, with no way to debate the issue proper. Simón enters the circle of hell reserved for this area of life, with his car needlessly being towed twice in a row. He is accused by his wife of caring more about the facist pigs of the government than his own family, as he arrives to his daughters birthday party just as everybody left. Why? Because his car was towed and he ran about the city trying to follow it up, arguing his case to deaf ears, instead of simply getting to the party on time and worrying about the car later. Revenge and absurdity is our theme here, so the ending to this will satisfy. It is also sentimental without being cringe-worthy, which is a pretty nice trio to end on.

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Next up is a fantastic story that one feels could be made into a feature, or at least a longer version, as this version doesn’t feel finished. A wealthy family’s son has drunkenly hit a pregnant woman with his car, failing to stop. The story is plastered all over the news, the family all a mess. They manage to pressure their house-worker of 15 years into doing the prison time for a large sum of money. But the car is eventually identified and the Policia are at the door. The film falls a bit flat after this, as the dramatic beginning leads to a slightly underwhelming ending, though it is still funny watching a rich man shuffle uncomfortably at the prospect of having to part with a large amount of cash.

The last short is easily the most insane wedding I have ever seen. Start to finish, batshit crazy. Are all weddings this extravagant? The atmosphere seemed more like that of a club than a wedding to begin with! This atmosphere quickly changes though when the bride, Romina, learns her brand new hubby has been less than faithful, and further still has invited the woman in question to his wedding. Cue the most outrageous overreaction to such news put to film, surely, as Romina truly flies off the handle. The scary thing is that it is such a real situation.. are we really capable of these actions? This one comes with an ending that is slightly inappropriate, but funny nonetheless, and better yet – unexpected. A great way to end a fascinating and unique movie that is filled with laughs.

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Does the anthology thing work? Here, it does. With revenge tying all the films together, it being an anthology allows us to meet many different characters all experiencing different emotions. We are thrust into absurd situations that force us to reflect what we would do in such a position. Working with shorts also gives the filmmaker freedom to end their stories on a memorable note without ruining the rest of the movie. I originally saw this at the Spanish Film Festival, but I had to see it again before writing about it. Just as funny the second time.

#MUSTWATCH!