‘Wild Tales’ is cinema at its highest level



Verdict: Arguably the best film of 2014, “Wild Tales”, yet another masterpiece from Argentina, finally gets its Atlanta release. This is cinema at its highest level of entertainment and art.


For quite some time now, South America’s source of quality films has been Argentina. Haunted by an oppressive dictatorship during the 1970 and 1980s, the Argentinean people have been slowly overcoming the memories of a violent past. And, through art, the country has found a way to express mourning and hope for a future where those atrocities will never happen again.

“Wild Tales” (Relatos Salvajes) is the newest product from this thriving cinematic nation and one that can and should be watched many times. The film shows this built-up violence still circulates and the potential each human being has, not only in Argentina but the world, of causing unexpected amounts of destruction when taken to his or her limit. “Wild Tales” is a collection of six short stories dealing with violence – physical, psychological and emotional.

Despite this apparent separation, there is a cohesive bond here that many films with one story fail to achieve. It is hard to take these short stories apart because it would be the same as removing a block from a toy tower. Although “Wild Tales” speaks of violence, there is a thread of irony present in each story, as if it were the cable pulling them together. The first story, for instance, is about people in an airplane who have all, in some way, done a wrong to the commanding pilot in the past. The absurd situation is poised with incredible irony and tension as the passengers realize they are all connected.

The film never worries even for a second about tying everything together. There’s nothing to tie up here. Each story is independent and complete on its own and yet, it is impossible to conceive a different sequence of stories.

All this is told with one impeccable photography work. The camera sets the tone from the arid and inhospitable desert to the darkness of a wedding party. One shot at the top of a building is particularly beautiful, as a hotel cook consoles a bride who has just been cheated. Two white bodies stand against the dark night in one elegant and emotional composition, capable of speaking more than all the words the cook says.

Acting is another part of the equation. All stories are so well acted that even Ricardo Darín, the shining star of Argentinean cinema, is unable to steal the show. Even though Darín brings his usual top class performance, all other actors seem to be at such a high level that it becomes hard or even unfair to point at one or another.

As far as violence, everything about “Wild Tales” is a level or two above Quentin Tarantino. Although “Wild Tales” has a couple of dead bodies and explosions, violence here goes beyond the physical aspect. It’s also the violence of upper class society where a father pays his gardener to assume responsibility for a crime his son committed and the violence of love when a woman finds out she has been cheated. While Tarantino entertains, “Wild Tales” does that and more, being much closer to “Fargo” – the masterpiece by the Coen brothers – than any big Hollywood movie.

The magic of “Wild Tales” is that these six stories never end where you expect them to. Director Damián Szifron is constantly pushing his plots towards the edge of the cliff, to a point of no return. And just when Szifron seems to have lost control, he makes you take one step further towards a leap that seems improbable. This leap, however, is worth every single time.

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