Wild Tales (15) : Close-Up Film Review

A Zany Package of a Film.

Erica Rivas in WILD TALES (2015)

Dir. Damián Szifrón, Argentina, 2015, 122 mins, in Spanish with English subtitles
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Óscar Martínez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Érica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg, Darío Grandinetti

A zany package film, Wild Tales links five stories by a common theme of vengeance and violence. Making a mockery of the sanctity of human life from a grim, albeit very humorous perspective, it is a unique conception and concoction.

Co-produced by Pedro Almodóvar, his influence is clear, as the black comedy component is unmatched.

The film has a distinctiveness for emotions whilst playing with irreverent humour, and it is no wonder Wild Tales received critical acclaim at the Cannes Films Festival. Wild Tales is two hours of pure delight as the fractured nature of the stories fit seamlessly. Szifrón is a skilled filmmaker whose risk taking has come out on top, as his abilities are clear.

With an insurmountable death toll, it remains abundantly clear the ensemble cast work tirelessly to allow Wild Tales to coalesce into an unexpectedly sublime filmic experience. Each time the film moves onto the next story there is not a loss of what has passed. Instead the audience waits feverishly for what is coming next.

The film’s opening sequence is both representative of the film’s title and symbolic of the animalist nature of its characters. An unusual montage of wild animals, this is the first in many of the unique characteristics of the film. The film then descends into a series of contrasting narratives that discuss an uncanny series of coincidences, a murdering cook, road rage, explosions, a hit-and-run and a very unceremonious wedding reception. All having their own inspired names, Szifrón intelligently amalgamates sociopolitical commentary into the films to considerable effect.

Yet, despite a growing death toll the film, rather unusually, finds some sort of a happy ending.

The difference in Wild Tales is the singularity of its voice. With each individual story written by Szifrón, it can be questioned whether the film’s differing stories are an indication of how Szifrón has felt at pivotal moments in his life. The uncontrollable nature of his characters’ emotions is the most striking element of the film. This is the biggest surprise as, unlike reality, it is not important or necessary for the individuals to make morally correct decisions.

It is Szifrón’s ability in placing characters within these enveloping constructs that helps to manufacture a cinematic experience as he makes emotional unpredictability comprehensible to us.

Violence is everywhere. Can Wild Tales therefore be seen as a larger comment on the irrationality and chaos of modern societies?

The fact that the characters surrender entirely to their carnal desires and emotions remains entrancing as art and violence coalesce. Wild Tales is a film you won’t soon forget.

Review by Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark

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