Wild Tales – Review

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This pitch black comedy was picked by Film 2015 presenter Danny Leigh as his film to watch over the coming months, and we feel compelled to agree. The bravado spirit that runs through the six short stories at the centre of the film, is to be admired, and the humour is at times painfully good.

All six stories feature characters who have been wronged and aren’t going to take it any more. It begins with one of the best pre-credit sequences we’ve seen, as an aircraft full of passengers sets off on a seemingly normal flight. Slowly everyone on board realises they are linked to the same man, and the horror of what is really going on hits home fast.

This section was short, punchy and one of our favourite moments of cinema from the last decade. Director and writer Damián Szifrón keeps up this energy throughout, and he crafts some wonderful stories that will have you on the edge of your seat. The film is an Argentine/Spanish production, and the sense of humour has been seen in other efforts from those nations, but never to this effect. Think back to Pedro Almodovar’s own take on in-flight shenanigans with I’m so excited, an over-the-top bawdy comedy that featured more misses than hits.

The kicker here being that Almodovar himself serves as a producer on Wild Tales.

The action continues when a waitress in a small cafe spies her latest costumer. It’s a man who had been a vicious mobster in her childhood home village. She tells an elderly cook all about how this man ruined her family and destroyed her parents… so the cook suggests serving up rat poison in the order of egg and chips. As you do. As the story unfolds, we see how the crook has become a family man himself, but is it too late? Again, there are some tremendous one-liners sprinkled over the tale, a notable one features the cook wondering if rat poison has a use-by date?

Next up is a road rage detour which represents a brutal, yet amusing step up in action from the previous story. A man in his fancy new car is held up by a burly yokel in a beat-up old van. Rushing past, the impatient driver calls the other a “red-neck”, gives him a one finger salute, and continues on his way. Not long after he has a puncture, and has to try to fix the problem himself… on the same remote road he was on earlier. Guess who is just around the corner?

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The violence is expertly played out. At times it is as comical as watching Ade Edmonson and the late Rik Myall smash one another to bits in Bottom, and at others it borders on a horror movie.

We go from here to an explosives expert who is infuriated around the bureaucracy that surrounds him. All he wants to do is object to an unfair parking ticket, but he is met by a constant barrage of red tape. The “system” chews him up and spits him out and cares little for him losing his loved ones in the process. The one person you probably don’t want to mess with is the guy who blows things up for a living. The story takes a superb twist into social commentary following an inevitable climax.

From here we end up in the home of a rich couple. Their only son hurtles into their garage driving a collision-damaged car. As it transpires he hit a pregnant woman, who has subsequently died. It’s time to call in the family lawyer and “fixer” to do something about it. The wealthy father at first is more than happy to pay a fortune to corrupt official, crooked solicitors and even a gardener willing to take the heat for the accident, but eventually even he gets sick of being fleeced. Everyone around him sees the opportunity to get a free ride off his fortune, but he turns the tables on them in blistering fashion.

Finally we end with a wedding. A woman is about to marry the man of her dreams at the perfect ceremony when she discover he has been cheating on her. The bride is at first heartbroken, but then decides she can ruin her husband and take it all from him. This is probably the weakest section of the film. It’s not bad, but it just lacks the wit and clever reveals of the previous stories. It does, however, provide some iconic images, including the deranged wife dancing on broken glass insisting that everyone joins her.

Overall Wild Tales is a hugely entertaining slice of fairytale action. It’s wish-fulfilment in that it won’t give you any ideas, but it will make you exceedingly happy to see thoughts you’ve had at several times in your life played out on the big screen.

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About Cassam Looch

Cassam Looch has been watching films ever since his first trip to the cinema to catch Care Bears: The Movie and writing about them after a traumatic incident involving Moonwalker. If he's not hassling celebrities on the red carpet, he'll usually be found in the darkened screening rooms of Soho.

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