Starring: Ricardo Darín, Oscar Martinez, Leonardo Sbaraglia
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
Six individual tales set in contemporary Argentina that explore the darker and more violent side of human nature that is motivated by vengeance; A former music school dropout seeks revenge on the many people that have wronged him over the years, a waitress seeks revenge on a gangster that tore her family apart, two motorists from very different cultures engage in extreme road rage, after his car is clamped an explosives expert’s day and life goes from bad to worse, a wealthy father learns the high price of protecting his son and after learning at her wedding of his infidelity a bride takes revenge on her cheating groom.
Often films contain various stories within their narrative whole, and predominantly they are put together in what is usually referred to as a ‘network narrative’ in which various stories and characters intertwine. Well Wild Tales contains six very individual stories and writer/ director Damián Szifron certainly keeps them individual by having them appear one after the other with the only single connection being that they are about the same theme. This is most certainly a wise decision as it allows each story (and they all vary in length) to develop on their own terms.
Though the six stories in the narrative contain the same theme at their core, Szifron develops them on their own terms as they are very different in tone and most importantly all have satisfying individual narratives and conclusions. Wild Tales has done extremely well on the international markets, and this deserved success is partly down to the fact that it explores some internationally universal themes, though I am sure the fact that is also very well made and acted certainly helps.
When I say the six stories are very different in tone, I mean the underlying humour ranges from black to jet black. The stories do also however depict the ultimate theme of the narrative whole in different comic ways; there is most certainly an element of farce to every story, but while some stories resort to physical comedy and extreme farce, others resort to farcical situations but yet depicts them with such a serious tone it only ultimately enhances the comedy. Farcical black comedy is extremely difficult to get right, as to even slightly go too over the top would undermine everything, but Szifron is always very much in control of his film and it is testament to him that Wild Tales is actually funnier when thinking about it in retrospect than while watching it. This is for me one of the reasons as to why it is a film very much deserving of repeat viewings.
Of course with a film that has six individual stories the natural (and almost subconscious) human reaction is to rank them immediately, but this is unfair as each story has its own merits and they all have their own differences. I of course will avoid elaborating spoiling what happens in each story as Wild Tales is best watched knowing as little as possible about what happens in each of these stories, but Szifron’s film deserves to be seen by all as each story does contain at its core relatable situations and characters. Though these are ultimately slightly exaggerated, and though we may at times almost be too scared to laugh, comedy can be found in all situations, and though Wild Tales is often farcical Szifron skilfully portrays this without disrespecting or undermining the tragedy behind the situations. Human nature and life contains many flaws and absurdities, even at times of great tragedy, and Wild Tales does an incredible, effective, often hilarious and unforgettable job of examining this.
Tragedy never seemed so funny; Wild Tales is a modern cinematic masterpiece that examines the farcical side of human nature and its many flaws and ensuing tragedies, and gets the balance of humour, poignancy and respect just right.