Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 2 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Violence, Language and brief Sexuality
(Spanish with English subtitles)
Directed by: Damian Szifron
Written by: Damian Szifron
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Oscar Martinez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Erica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg & Dario Grandinetti
It’s not every day that you see a darkly comedic anthology earn an Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, but that’s exactly what happened with WILD TALES. This is a movie that pretty much popped up out of nowhere onto my radar and delighted me with six insane stories. Like any other anthology, the tales themselves land onto varying degrees of quality. The kicker here is that themes of vengeance and everyday annoyances run rampant through every one of them. It makes for great, twisted fun!
Tale #1: PASTERNAK: Two passengers on a plane discover that they both know a man by the name of Pasternak. One is a music critic who soiled the man’s dream career and the other is a former girlfriend. Through casual conversation, the two discover that they have more in common than they think. This opening segment is just under 10 minutes long and serves as a really great, mean joke with a punchline that’s dark comedy gold! I laughed and I laughed hard. It is a bit easy to guess what’s coming after a certain point into this story, but that didn’t lessen the impact of the final shot at all. A-
Tale #2: THE RATS: A waitress finds that her newest customer is actually a man who had a hand in ruining her childhood. While she wants to merely insult the customer, the cook in the kitchen has more drastic ideas of payback. This story opens with a lot of promise and has a number of laughs that work well, but fizzles out in a conclusion that’s sort of shrugs and says “That’s it.” It’s an okay segment that winds up as the weakest story of the bunch. B-
Tale #3: THE STRONGEST: My second favorite tale of the film is a case of road rage that quickly morphs into something more sinister and deadly. When a rich guy crosses paths with a redneck on the road, the two exchange insults and middle fingers. However, the rich jerk soon finds himself with a flat tire and the redneck is driving with revenge on his mind. This tale is about as simple as you can get. It’s a confrontation between two people that steadily gets worse…and worse…and even worse! While the violence is a bit graphic, this story never loses sight of the comedic angle with little touches that were cracking me up throughout. A
Tale #4: LITTLE BOMB: A man finds his life falling apart after he receives an unjust parking ticket. I don’t want to give away many details about this segment because the element of surprise will play a big part in how much you enjoy this story. I found this tale to be the stand-out, show-stopping story of this whole anthology. This is also the only segment that actually makes an honest attempt of getting the viewer’s sympathies in favor of the main character. That only makes the story that much funnier and more rewarding. This also had the most creative and satisfying ending in the film that did manage to surprise me. A+
Tale #5: THE PROPOSAL: After a wealthy man’s son commits a hit-and-run, the millionaire and his lawyer plan a proposal that could get his son out of this mess…but things only get more complicated from that point. This segment is one of the longer stories in the film and feels like it could have easily been cut down for a tighter tale. There’s still much hilarity and double-crossing occurring all through this story. However, it doesn’t quite stick the landing in an abrupt “I guess that’s the end of that” type of conclusion. B+
Tale #6: UNTIL DEATH DO US PART: The longest of the segments is also the second-worst of the six. That’s not to say that it’s bad. Not at all. It just feels like a slightly lower way to send off the film. If this had been somewhere in the middle, then I might have liked it a little more. The premise is that a bride discovers that her groom may not be entirely faithful in the middle of their wedding reception. This leads to many embarrassing hijinks as both the bride and groom become mortified for entirely different reasons. Again, this one had some solid laughs, but felt weak in comparison to its competition. B
WILD TALES is a hilarious, deliciously insane anthology that puts the dark in dark comedy. Everyday annoyances and mild misfortunes become the instigators of life-or-death situations in this beautifully shot, quirky film. If you’re into twisted humor and enjoy satires that focus on the underbelly of everyday life, then I highly recommend that you check out WILD TALES at your earliest convenience. Simply put, this movie rocks!