Wild Tales is flamboyant, audacious and so much fun that it makes you gasp. It released in India earlier this year (without much fanfare) and instantly disappeared. Which is a shame because this Oscar-nominated Argentinian film deserves to be seen and savoured. Wild Tales is curdled, bitter but also, laughout-loud funny. Director Damian Szifron strings together six stories on the theme of revenge. People are wronged.
They hurt each other in twisted and unexpected ways — at one point, one character defecates on another character’s swanky car; a bride becomes so viciously angry that the groom throws up in panic; a waitress ponders if she should poison her sole customer because he is a Mafioso who drove her father to suicide. Each tale offers a display of humanity at its cruellest best. The title sequence features beasts of the jungle but Szifron shows us that the real savages are humans.
Amazingly, a dark vein of humour is embedded in all the revenge taking. It’s subversive and outrageous (the producer credits on Wild Tales include the Almodóvar brothers – Pedro and Agustin). The first pre-title story, about passengers on a flight who discover that they know a man named Gabriel Pasternak, is delightfully wicked. It ends in major destruction but the impact is shock, awe and laughter.
In an omnibus, some stories are invariably better than others. But what’s great is that Wild Tales is bookended by the two best ones. So you finish with the same high as you start. And pay close attention to the killer dialogue — in the second story, The Rats, when the customer enters, the waitress asks the routine question: party of one? It’s pouring outside and there isn’t a soul in sight. The customer replies: I see you’re good at math.