Hilariously dark and madly energetic “Wild Tales” is the perfect lightning-in-a-bottle closer for this year’s Spanish Film Festival
We’re heading towards the tail end of this year’s Spanish Film Festival run in Perth, and the line up so far has been wonderfully eclectic. Audiences laughed at Rafa’s romantic misadventure in festival opener Spanish Affair, became entranced by the magical realism of They’re All Dead, were moved by the intense drama of Blue Lips, and got their True Detective fix with the gripping Marshland. But in a festival season filled with excellent, Spanish-language films, the Spanish Film Festival saved its best for last with the Academy Award-nominated Argentine-Spanish black comedy Wild Tales (or Relatos Salvajes in Spanish).
Written and directed by noted Argentine television director (creator of tv series Los Simuladores) Damián Szifron, Wild Tales is an anthology of six standalone short films, all of which begins with a seemingly mundane activity: A beautiful woman boards an all-expense-paid flight; a waitress takes the order of a politician; a city slicker is driving on a countryside highway; a wealthy married couple is fast asleep in their mansion; a demolitions expert is buying a cake for his daughter’s birthday; a bride is in the midst of enjoying her wedding party. Each short film tells a different tale, all of which are tied together by a single, unifying theme: Revenge. And boy, does Szifon serve up a wickedly delicious tasting palette of retribution with these vignettes.
Do yourself a favour and make sure that the above-mentioned premise descriptions of each vignette are the only plot details you’ll read about the film. If you’re planning on seeing it (and you should be), do not – and I repeat – DO NOT watch the trailer. Wild Tales is a horrifically hysterical, playfully violent, and rousingly poignant thrill ride of revenge that is best experienced with minimal knowledge of what’s about to come.
With each story, the film presents us with a fun, witty contemplation on what it means to exact vengeance, its consequences, and the way in which it manifests in our lives. The film is imbued with the kind of expertly executed, Coen Brothers/Kill Bill-esque black humour that evokes giddy laughter from its audience, immediately followed by residual guilt about laughing in the first place. A credit to Szifon’s strong writing, deft direction, and solid, energetic performances from its cast, each short film stands on its own as a distinct story, and yet, fits perfectly in the film as a cohesive whole. Szifon really does manage to capture lightning in a bottle here with Wild Tales, as the film is a perfect marriage of black humour, social commentary, drama, action, and fun storytelling that makes it one of the must-see film-going experience of this year.