“Wild Tales” was an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, but if you are like me and you may think that sounds a bit stuffy. Let me assure you, “Wild Tales” is an unpretentious ride. Ribald, violent, and darkly funny in ways that might make you feel a little guilty, “Wild Tales” is a huge Spanish language surprise.
“Wild Tales” is an anthology of six short stories, each spiraling out of control and escalating into violence. A plane flight, a woman working at a diner, a drive in the desert, paying a traffic ticket, an irresponsible son of a rich man, and a wedding all provide the backdrop for stories of relatable, yet unhinged craziness.
The film is interesting in that it is a little bit of “wish and nightmare” fulfillment. Who hasn’t wanted to literally destroy the DMV while waiting in line? We never actually do these things but in the movie we see these destructive vindictive fantasies. Here’s the thing, these things happen but so do the logical repercussions. The man goes to jail and gets fired from his job for what he does at the DMV. But It’s the steps after this though where things get wild.
To discuss the specifics of any more of the short stories would certainly spoil them. They’re not long but each packs incredible tension and then relief. Each is different in setting, characters, and unique sadistic trajectory.
Director Damián Szifrón gets great performances from all his actors and none of them feel silly even though some of these situations get comical. It’s the every-person appeal that grounds each of the stories. A genius thing that really sucked me in was that sometimes the first domino of chaos falls at the hand of someone else, making the main character a victim before having them contribute to the craziness later on.
I look forward to seeing whatever else Szifrón has for audiences.
“Wild Tales” is now playing at the Oriental Theatre.