Magazine article Screen International

Wild Tales

Magazine article Screen International

Wild Tales

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Damian Szifron. Argentina-Spain. 2014, 122mins

Argentina's Damian Szifron drives Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) hard across its six separate episodes - his one-man portmanteau of innovative and increasingly scathing social comedy is brilliantly conceived and confidently delivered.

Throughout, Wild Tales is never predicable. Its tales of the unexpected have twists and turns, but they're always innovative, and the music choices are unexpectedly left-field and pulpishly entertaining.

It's hard to maintain the creative wit on display across the first three episodes (Pasternak, The Rats, and Road To Hell). And these six unrelated stories of roughly 20 minutes duration do occasionally struggle for air, particularly towards the fourth and fifth segments as the film's tone grows more suffocating.

But there is no doubt that this Wild Tales an accomplished comedy that aims high and delivers. It is gleefully imaginative in conception and also in execution - the desert dust of Tarantino-esque third installment The Road to Hell seems drifts over the whole film, making its classic Western themes more overt. In each strand, somebody is mad, and they just aren't going to take it any more. As the murderous jailbird cook in Episode two, The Rats, played by Rita Cortese, says: "Everyone wants the bastards to get what they deserve, but nobody wants to lift a finger."

She, however, has no such compunctions, and neither do her colleagues in Wild Tales, who all burst through repression and corruption to unleash their inner outraged beast. Wild Tales is funny - very funny in parts - but its off-kilter comedy has more of a touch of Spain's Alex de la Iglesias than, say, Almodovar, whose El Deseo co-produced (the opening short, Pasternak, is set on an airplane, immediately calls to mind last year's I'm So Excited).

Szifron's last film, Tiempo de Valientes (2005), was a conventional buddy-comedy about a depressed cop. Wild Tales is a far more accomplished affair. Each film strikes its own tone, and maintains its own identity, yet the film gels as a whole. Its Cannes Competition berth and warm reviews should see Wild Tales at least secure festival play, and there's enough in here to secure a shot at the art house. Domestic box office for Warner Bros should be excellent, with Spain and other Latin-speaking territories to follow. SPC's decision to take Wild Tales on board for North American distribution on the eve of its Cannes bow looks like a smart move. …

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