DIR/WRI: Damián Szifrón • PRO: Agustín Almodóvar, Pedro Almodóvar, Esther García, Matías Mosteirín, Hugo Sigman • DOP: Javier Julia • ED: Pablo Barbieri Carrera, Damián Szifrón • MUS: Gustavo Santaolalla • DES: María Clara Notari • CAST: Darío Grandinetti, María Marull, Mónica Villa
In terms of genre and format, the anthology film occupies as shaky a spot in the world of cinema as the short story collection does in the world of literature. Are the singular tales themselves lesser works because they could not gain a sturdier stage-time such as, say, that of a feature film or a novel? Is the consumption of the tales as a collective imperative to our enjoyment of each individually? Some anthologies (such as last year’s exquisite A Touch of Sin) cheat the medium by linking the tales by a mere means of physical proximity of the end of one to the beginning of another, and some, such as the always interesting New York Stories, were comfortable to have their tales co-exist a connecting theme, in that case New York life. This week’s Argentinian effort, Wild Tales, lands in the latter camp, but only if catering to the murkier realms of human indulgence counts for a theme.
Wild Tales can be considered a masterclass in pulp filmmaking of both the short and novella format. Each story contains perceptible heroes and villains waltzing gracefully from white, through grey to morally black territory in lull allowing any audience living outside the confines of a monastery to joyfully experience the second-hand thrill of not giving a shit for consequence in the modern world. And, on second thoughts, its screening within a monastery to monastic inhabitants is perhaps the only means by which this delight could be made yet more cathartic.
The stories here encompass all manner of purposeful wrath, and the selected beefs on show, as chosen by writer-director Szifron, cast their seething glares upon everything to infidelity, to class-war, to road-rage, to parking tickets. Though the poster boasts a selection of revenge-themed tales, not all of the stories could boast as much and yet none fall short of delirious entertainment. The only manner this falls short as a piece of cinema is that the only scenario in which it functions justly as such is in a theatre in the dark; each story could function just as well if not better as a solo outing, a factor that plays most ironically when tied to the accumulating wedding-set tale, which boasts as good a cinematic matrimonial anyone will see this side of The Godfather.
Whether or not you view all of the Wild Tales in one sitting is a matter of minor irrelevance to this review. There’s truly something here for anyone who’s even flirted peripherally with their own moral grey-zone.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Wild Tales is released 27th March 2015