Saturday, 1 August 2015

Wild Tales

Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes), out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, is a difficult film to review. Directed by Damián Szifrón, the Argentine/Spanish film was extraordinarily well received at the Cannes Film Festival (reportedly receiving a standing ovation for ten minutes), and it’s not difficult to see why. It even went on to receive an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film, and I predict it’ll be a cult classic in the future. But considering it is an anthology film consisting of six short standalone stories, it feels like I have to review six films rather than one. I’ll try my best to put it into words…Wild Tales is absolutely phenomenal. So what makes it so darn good?

I’ll try and tackle the six films like Noah would – two by two. I don’t want to give much away regarding the individual storylines, as they are all very twisty and surprising in their shocking delivery. But there’s one theme that unites all of the stories, and that is vengeance. Dark, bloody vengeance. Our first story takes place aboard a plane, in which a young lady begins to realise that everyone on board has a mutual acquaintance in common. Our second tells the story of a waitress in a quiet diner at night as she encounters an old familiar face from her past. These two shorts, entitled Pasternak and The Rats, are the shortest of the bunch and excellently set the tone of Wild Tales. If you make it through these two and you just don’t get the film at all, then hang on just a little longer. The third and fourth stories, The Strongest and Little Bomb, are by far the strongest in the anthology.

The Strongest is a tense tale of the tragic consequences of road rage, while Little Bomb is a story we can all relate to with one of those days that just keeps getting worse. For me, Wild Tales started to lose steam by the time it reached its fifth and sixth tales, entitled The Proposal and Until Death Do Us Apart, which couldn’t reach the immense heights of the 3rd and 4th story. The Proposal was a rather dull story about a rich father trying to protect his son who committed a horrible accident, whilst Until Death Do Us Apart was an underwhelming tale of a wedding gone wrong. But regardless of Wild Tales beginning to slightly decrease in quality towards the end, when taken as a whole it is still a damn impressive piece of cinema. Even the weaker shorts had more quality in them than most feature length films today.

Each story is fantastically well shot. The cinematography by Javier Julia is stunning throughout, from the wide open Argentinian hills to the cramped tax offices – there is a dark beauty in every frame. The pacing is excellent too, as these are all short films they don’t have time to outstay their welcome or drag in any way. I can’t begin to fault the acting either, which is stellar in each short – particular praise for Ricardo Darín, who steals the show as a normal man who’s day goes from bad to worse in Little Bomb, before it all ends with a bang. And the score by Gustavo Santaolalla is one of the finest I’ve heard in a while. I could sit here all day listing every single element of the film that I loved, but who has time for that?

Wild Tales is a refreshingly original piece of work. It’s extremely dark and deranged and often very funny in its razor-sharp satire and bizarre twists. But for me, a lot of it was relatable. We’ve all had bad days. We’ve all had enemies. We’ve all wanted to get revenge on those who’ve wronged us. Wild Tales, arguably, shows you why revenge isn’t necessarily the best option. It doesn’t always go according to plan!

Wild Tales packs six great little stories into one wild film. Highly recommended. 5/5.


Sam Love

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