Unlike the slew of unnecessarily star-drenched vignette films like Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011), Wild Tales is one that actually works. Even further, it may be the best one there is. The Argentinian film, which was nominated for best foreign feature this year at the Oscar’s and is finally getting a wide release, tells six short stories about…well, it’s hard to even capture. Deeply distressed individuals? Crazed murderers? Disturbed newlyweds? The list goes on, but suffice it to say, these six stories pretty much don’t hold back on anything. The storylines are separate from one another and do not directly intertwine, but instead they are linked through thematic content.
With each story, a common theme is justice. How each individual seems to deal with betrayal or wrongdoing is wildly different, but seems to come from the same innate desire for fairness and redemption. It’s in this way that we can relate to the characters. Although their actions might be utterly repulsive or extreme, it’s impossible to deny that at one point or another, one of these twisted plots has been a fantasy. If you have ever gotten wrongfully towed, cheated on, or even just flipped off while driving, you will take great revel in these concurrent stories of revenge.
It is in this way that the darkly comedic tones of the film succeed. Black comedy is not an easy genre to pull off, and they often border on downright ridiculous with a morbid spin. That is not to say that Wild Tales is not ridiculous—it absolutely is. However, there remains a great familiarity with the subjects and their utter distress in life. We laugh because on some sadistic level we relate. Whether you’re looking at a film that will continually surprise you, one to stimulate your intellect, or just one to truly make you laugh (or definitely all of the above), you should not miss this depraved and striking film. And as an added bonus, the film has an exceptional use of the “Love Theme” from Flashdance (1983).
Wild Tales opens today at the Ritz Bourse.
Author: Catherine Haas
Catherine Haas is a native Philadelphian who received her master’s in film history from Columbia University. She is a freelance film programmer, writer, and an avid pug enthusiast.