Review: Wild Tales – Revenge is sweet, and very sticky

Mark Reynolds 

Damián Szifrón’s deliciously dark comedy is an exuberant exploration of the brutality that lurks beneath the rules and routines of modern life.

Splicing together six spicy shorts on the common theme of revenge, the Argentine director displays a Tarantinoesque talent for slapstick violence and barbed dialogue.

What happens when a universally maligned flight attendant gets control of the airline’s passenger list? Or a demolition man with easy access to explosives receives a parking ticket too many? In other scenarios, a heinous moneylender walks into a diner where the cook has a criminal record and a fixable rat problem, and a spoilt son’s car accident sparks an unfortunate series of events that spiral into extortion and murder.

In the most unforgettable segments of all, a smug businessman driving through a mountain wilderness is caught up in an unwinnable road rage stand-off with a tough truck driver (a fist fight between Jeremy Clarkson and Brando’s Stanley Kowalski would be swift and pretty by comparison), and a bride who gets wind of her husband’s infidelity at their wedding party wreaks devastating and very public retribution.

Image Source: Curzon

As each of the characters lose control with extreme relish, we’re left to ponder if a quiet, conventional life is all it’s cracked up to be. Well yes, probably, if we want to keep away from physical danger, but it does look hellishly good fun to let go.

Produced by Pedro Almodóvar, nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and winner of multiple international prizes (including practically the full set at Argentina’s national film awards), Wild Tales heralds the arrival of an unstoppable new force in international filmmaking.

Unwittingly, the opening story has a chilling parallel with a very recent disaster, which only goes to show that the truth is never far removed from even the most outrageous fiction.

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Enjoy films made up of vingettes? You'll love Tales of Manhattan. 

More films from Pedro Almodóvar.