COMEDY can be a tricky genre for filmmakers to succeed at, and even more so for the inclusion of comedy as a sub-genre.
With Wild Tales, however, Argentinian director Damian Szfiron manages to craft a memorable, macabre and often hilarious revenge anthology, produced by Spanish maestro Pedro Almodovar, which brings reminiscence of Luis Buneul, David Lynch and Woody Allen.
The film focuses on six different stories, each stripped across two hours, focusing on how the actions of characters can have grave consequences for themselves and others, if the forget to think about what they are doing.
The first focuses on a plane of passengers who discover they are all connected to another passenger, whilst tale two details how an agitated waitress and her cook plot a bittersweet revenge on a customer responsible for the death of the former’s father.
A look at how refusing to allow a motorist to pass can result in a literal fight to the death makes up for the third and easily funniest of the tales. The fourth has veteran actor Ricardo Darin, of The Secret in Their Eyes, play an infuriated engineer getting revenge on a car tolling company for contributing to his gradual lifestyle decline.
The film then makes a successful turn from dark comedy to dark drama with its fifth. A teenage son accidentally runs over and kills a pregnant woman, resulting in his millionaire parents inventing a scheme involving their gardener, prosecutor and lawyer to keep news of their son’s actions quiet.
The sixth and final returns back to comedy with its weakest tale, showing how a wedding party turns into one of the worst possible nights as details of infidelity quickly come into light as the party hits full swing.
What makes this film work so well is that there is a level of unpredictability that fits largely throughout. Even when a tale ends in a way that could have been better altered, it is impossible to refuse the filmmakers credit for being able to keep the suspense intact until the trick is pulled.
The third tale works as the best given its variation from ensuring curiosity to inflicting gross-out humour before delivering unexpected violent slapstick comedy that would appeal to anyone who laughed more than twice at Bottom. Never in all of the six tales does the act of telling people to think before they act get expressed more clearly than this one, an element which will undoubtedly signify conversation once viewed.
The fifth tale also works for showcasing the talent of the director for not only working as a good humourist but also as a fine dramatist. The notions of having an employee offered money to take the blame for his boss’ son’s fatal incident and the subsequent negotiations that take place tie in for a cleverly-written sequence where multiple endings are a possibility. This is representative of intelligent storytelling that has been lacking in American cinema in recent times, and one could look as Szfiron as someone who fits in with the crowd of those telling the Americans how it should be done.
The final sequence does lack the intensity of the preceding tales and the film does then go from wholly to moderately intriguing. It would have worked putting this fourth and ending the film with tale four to end on a higher note, but ultimately, it’s a flaw that is forgivable.
The dark elements may prove overtly morbid to some people but to anyone who find interest through watching works from the Coens or indulging in a David Lynch marathon once in a while, this is something to be enjoyed.
The versatility of each tale shows that this is something that could stretch out to more than just a two-hour picture.
It’s good enough and entertaining enough to want to see more work like this, whether it is as a sequel or even as a television series. Some could argue shows like Inside No 9 are as close as we can get to that, but one wants to see whether it could be achieved successfully by the same makers of this picture.
It’s unsure if that is the intention of the filmmakers but, as learnt from Wild Tales, it would be worth looking at.