Relatos Salvajes | Wild Tales (2014)
Downright hilarious, incessantly fun & delightfully deranged, Wild Tales is one of the finest black comedies to surface on the silver screen in recent years and is a cleverly structured, ingeniously executed & expertly narrated anthology of six standalone shorts, each oozing with heavy dose of creativity, wickedness & macabre use of humour that, despite featuring different stories, forms a consistently thrilling whole and remains a highly enjoyable, wildly entertaining & thoroughly satisfying ride from the very beginning to the very end.
Wild Tales (also known as Relatos Salvajes) is told in six segments. First follows a group of people on a plane who discover that they all have a common acquaintance. Second follows a waitress who recognises her client and the tragedy he caused in her life. Third concerns two drivers whose argument ends with tragic consequences. Fourth follows a demolition expert whose life is destroyed by a car towing incident. Fifth is about a wealthy family whose son has an overnight hit-n-run accident, and the sixth is centred around a wedding party in which the bride just finds out about her husband’s infidelity.
Written & directed by Damián Szifron, all the six stories within Wild Tales are connected by a common theme of violence & vengeance but the morbid wit of it makes sure that it never becomes too serious. All the tales are captivating & strong enough to stand on its own, all the characters are brilliantly penned down plus the actors do a terrific job in bringing them to life, Szifron’s screenplay is as impressive as his quality direction, and each tale packs in highly believable scenarios, thus making it more effective. For me, every subsequent short was better than the one preceding it and the film as a whole never for once feels dull.
The technical aspects make sure that all the stories exhibit the same feel & texture in order to maintain a consistent tone throughout its runtime. Cinematography binds it all the stories together with nearly similar camerawork & colour composition in all six stories, and all sets are brightly light. Its 122 minutes of runtime is steadily paced and every segment is tightly wrapped. A dark, sinister ambience encapsulates the whole film at all times and the tense vibe is effectively sustained. Music plays a vital role in balancing the whole act and Gustavo Santaolalla’s exquisite score does exactly that, in addition to some cool selection of songs.
Coming to the performances, every cast member does a fantastic job in their given roles & the sum of the parts is always greater than any individual contribution. The leading actors in each segment carry that story amazingly well and even the ones chipping in with supporting work are no slouch. The acting ranges from thoroughly restrained to totally maniacal but all of their inputs are in tune with the narrative these characters are confined to. Ricardo Darín is one of the best highlights but the film saves its best for the last, where the duo playing a newly wed couple take the stage in a calm, fashioned manner but turn absolutely deranged to finish the film on a memorable high.
On an overall scale, Wild Tales is a pleasant surprise for I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it turned out to be. It’s a wild, crazy & demented experience that delivers the thrills in the most unexpected ways and is finely balanced & accomplished in both storytelling as well as technical aspects. It’s smart, it’s creative & it offers plenty of laughs plus every tale has got something that makes them stand out in one way or another. It doesn’t happen very often in cinema when every short in an anthology movie leaves a positive impression and while the quality differs from story to story here, each segment well above the line of mediocrity. An instant classic, one of the best films of its year & definitely amongst the finest examples of its genre, this dark, uproarious & subversive satire from Argentina comes very highly recommended.