Star – Ricardo Darin
Genre – World Cinema > Black Comedy
Run Time – 122 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – Argentina
Oscars – 1 nomination
Awards – 44 Wins & 53 Nominations
Amazon – £ DVD £ Blue Ray
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So Wild Tales, a ‘Best Film in a Foreign Language’ Oscar nomination for 2015, from director Damian Szifron. It’s the third in a row to be nominated with actor Ricardo Darín as a leading star (after Son of the Bride (2001) and The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) for the Oscars. He is Argentinean cinema as he joins an ensemble cast here for this comic film from that part of the world. The mid budget $4 million dollar comedy is a collection of six short unrelated tales of resentment, rage, revenge and redemption, brilliantly acted by that ensemble cast, wowing the critics and an impressive 8.1 on the IMDB movie database. You can’t ignore ratings like that for an Oscar rated foreign film.
Argentina, of course, is the least Latin of sexy South America and so their movies tend to be colder and more mainstream topics, no romantic love in the favelas, ghetto gangs shooting up the cops or tales of impoverished subsistence farmers here guys. Buenos Aires, where most of their films are based, could be Madrid or Paris. Their film making tends to be more metropolitan and aloof from the continent.
Darío Grandinetti ... Salgado (segment "Pasternak")
María Marull ... Isabel (segment "Pasternak")
Mónica Villa ... Profesora Leguizamón (segment "Pasternak")
Rita Cortese ... Cocinera (segment "The Rats")
Julieta Zylberberg ... Moza (segment "The Rats")
César Bordón ... Cuenca (segment "The Rats")
Leonardo Sbaraglia ... Diego (segment "Road to Hell")
Walter Donado ... Mario (segment "Road to Hell")
Ricardo Darín ... Simón (segment "Bombita")
Nancy Dupláa ... Victoria (segment "Bombita")
Oscar Martínez ... Mauricio (segment "The Deal")
María Onetto ... Helena (segment "The Deal")
Osmar Núñez ... Lawyer (segment "The Deal")
Erica Rivas ... Romina (segment "Til Death Do Us Part")
Diego Gentile ... Ariel (segment "Till Death Do Us Part")
We open with a short story that sets the mood for Wild Tales themes of coincidence, betrayal and outright mayhem as gorgeous ex model Isabella (María Marull) is invited into a conversation on a plane with a man called Salgado Pasternak (Darío Grandinetti), who just so happens to be the music critic that destroyed her ex husbands confidence and career with a savage review and so broke up their marriage. Also on the plane are other people who know Pasternak, in fact pretty much everyone on the plane knows Pasternak, a strange coincidence and Pasternak is now an air steward who has locked himself on the flight deck as the plane begins to dive.
Our next tale is of opportunist revenge as a waitress (Julieta Zylberberg), recognizes a grumpy customer in her restaurant (César Bordón) as the loan shark who destroyed her family. Moza informs fellow waitress and older cook Concirna (Rita Cortese) of who this man is and spits in his food. But Cuenca thinks all men are pigs and decides to go one step further and puts rat poison in his sweet as the insults fly.
Moza: Good evening, a table for one?
Cuenca: I see you're good at math.
Meanwhile, out in the rural and arid Argentina desert in the mid day sun, 30 something salary man Diego (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is driving in his nice car when he is blocked by some guy in his truck for five minutes. Diego angrily drives alongside and offers the guy (Walter Donado) the finger and then speeds off. He thinks nothing more about it until his tyre burst down the road, you know who pulling up to offer ‘assistance’, the road-rage soon escalating.
Back in Buenos Aires and demolition expert Simón (Ricardo Darín) has just copped a huge parking ticket and ready to complain. He rants that the paint was worn out on the curb that shows the restriction and so the ticket is void. That is not going to happen though and he is soon in a prison cell for violent conduct to a city officer. When he gets out he is determined to get even with the city the only way he knows how.
A teenager that has been drinking kills a young couple in a car accident and leaves the scene. The father of the girl is threatening retribution to whomever the hit and run driver was. The rich parents of the driver decide to cover it up, dad Mauricio (Oscar Martínz) quikcly calling the family lawyer (Osmar Núñez) to put some sort of plan in place, mom Helena (María Onetto) in agreement to protect her son. The gardener agrees to play the drunk and do the jail time for some serious coin but when the lawyers begins to blackmail the family things turn nasty.
Our final tail is the society weeding of bride Romina (Erica Rivas) and groom Ariel (Diego Gentile). But Rom has been bonking a girl at his music lectures and has invited her to the wedding. Cue flying cake, fists, handbags and champagne corks!
I must admit I was not aware this was going to be six unrelated stories. I was at least expecting the vignettes to be tenuously connected so a narrative of sorts. That was not the case. That took away from the experience for me. The acting was great but the stories fairly dull and the hype about this just that. There is no way this is an 8.1 on the Imdb. Gone with the Wind is an 8.1, The Deerhunter is an 8.1 and so is Cool Hand Luke! It is not in that company in anyway. But you don’t know until you try but not one I will watch again. Not that I have watched much of Gone With the Wind.
This film should be fun, and some bits are, especially the wedding at the end, but all too often it may remind you of just the kinds of frustrations you went to the movies to forget. Watching this is like watching the middle - class comedian who doesn’t want too - or can’t - offend anyone and so looking for polite laughs from a likewise crowd. There is simply no risk or edge here. I wanted to get more from this but ended up reaching for the fast-forward. I’m baffled at its success. Technically very good, film wise rather dull.
I like Darin, who was really good in the Argentinean conman flick called ‘Nine Queens’, a while back, and also very good in The Secret in Their Eyes, but perfunctory here. As I say the talent is all there but the film is as fragmented in enjoyment as it is in structure. You just needed some more wow and original moments as well as more sophisticated laughs and situations in the ingredients. When you get to hard way and three stories in you start to get bored, especially knowing there is an hour more of this, at best a film to touch upon your Spanish skills.
Imdb.com – 8.1/10.0 (122,456votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 95% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
Financial Times –‘Filmmaker Damián Szifrón must have had a difficult childhood. Or else he just loves - don't we all? - dark stories in which logic is an extension ladder from Earth to Hell’.
Daily Telegraph –‘ While it's boiling over, it's satisfyingly snippy fun - the movie equivalent of cutting three inches off a cheating ex's trousers’.
The Mail –‘ Wild Tales is not just a film you'll enjoy. It's one you'll want to talk about when it's over, either to debate the morals of the film - or to convince someone else to watch it’.
Sight and Sound –‘Each morsel of well-rounded, perfectly structured storytelling becomes part of a coherent, exuberant whole, linked as much as anything by a potent political anger directed against inequality and abuse, be it emotional, physical or economic’.
Times UK –‘ Wild Tales is a riotously entertaining collection of short stories linked by a common theme: people losing their self-control and self-respect’.
N Herald –‘There's plenty going on here, but the films can be enjoyed simply as anarchic fun. Don't expect happy endings, though’.
Independent –‘Wild Tales is a raucously entertaining collection of "six deadly stories of revenge". The brilliance of the film (produced by Pedro Almodóvar) lies in its combination of excess and ordinariness’.