By James Hancock February 22nd, 2015
I just stumbled out of “Wild Tales”, a film by Argentinian director Damián Szifrón, and I can’t remember the last time a movie by a director that I’m unfamiliar had such an incredible impact on me. In a movie that rivals the best work by Todd Solondz, “Wild Tales” is a black hearted, brutally honest, violent, sexy, and above all absolutely fucking hysterical new work that puts the world on notice of a major new talent. If you were already a fan of Damián Szifrón beforehand then shame on you for not telling me about him sooner. I am officially a major fan. He has accomplished that rare feat of making an outstanding anthology film. Anthology films are always a mixed bag where the audience wearily has to get emotionally invested all over again at the beginning of each new story, but in “Wild tales” each of the six stories had me grinning demonically as I looked forward to what evil and twisted laughs the movie had in store for me next. In the interest of full candor, I went to this movie against my will as part of my homework for the next episode of Wrong Reel (Subscribe on iTunes). I was completely exhausted and feeling a cold coming on, yet within seconds of the opening of “Wild Tales” I already knew I was in the capable hands of a director I could trust. So many Hollywood movies, particularly comedies, force audiences to swallow nauseatingly sentimental dramatic beats and plot twists throughout the film almost as if filmmakers do not trust audiences to stick with them unless the viewer is spoon fed some sugary bullshit every once and while to remind them that everything is okay. “Wild Tales” features none of that nonsense.
I’m not going to go into spoiler territory for this movie although I find it next to impossible to review a movie without spoilers. Part of the joy of watching this movie is how deliciously unpredictable it is. Each of the six vignettes is essentially a morality tale where the characters are confronted with an ethical predicament from overreacting to road rage, getting revenge on an unfaithful lover, violently opposing a corrupt bureaucracy, or something as extreme as arranging for the death of every person that might have wronged an individual throughout his or her entire life. This might sound relentlessly morbid but the tone of the film is pitch perfect (at least for my sadistic sensibilities) and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard while at the same time completely sympathizing with the emotions of the characters on the screen. The one spoiler I will offer is that the film closes with the most brilliant depiction of the pure hell of planning, attending or participating in a wedding that I have ever seen on screen. “Ida” might have defeated “Wild Tales” in the category of Best Foreign Language Film on Oscar night, but I have no doubt that “Wild Tales” will withstand the test of time and continue to delight and horrify audiences for many years to come.
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