Wild Tales is a raucous collection of outrageous shorts whose only common theme seems to be to strip down the oppression of society's expectations. Society in this case, refers to modern Argentinian society, which can inform some of the specifics of an occasional short, like the one about a guy enraged with the city's public parking policies, but many others are universal in nature, and always place the moviegoer in the shoes of the victim.
Damian Szifron wrote and directed this anthology movie, and the short stories he has come up with are always extreme, exaggerated, violent and utterly hilarious- this is essentially a black comedy, as all but one of the shorts wind up in various iterations of murder and gore, after a person who just "can't take it anymore," gives up on what they're expected to do and just goes with his/her gut, does what feels right, consequences be damned. In a funny way, that's the kind of thing that makes this film (which is the highest grossing in Argentina's history) the ultimate crowdpleaser- every action ultimately taken by one of the parties in a corresponding short ends up in a cathartic burst of wish fulfillment. Don't we all fantasize about lashing out in the most extreme way possible against the people who've wronged us, be they friends, acquaintances, lovers, or the government itself?
It may be unnecessary to describe the shorts individually- they are all less than twenty minutes and endlessly re-watchable in nature (you could even think of them as comedic Twilight Zone episodes). They each set up a scenario that leads to an overtly extreme reaction by a wronged party, a reaction so over the top and yet understandable, that by the time the segment reaches its conclusion you're laughing and cheering along in both horror and sympathy for what led to the decision made. There are elements of the surreal or sci-fi, thriller and coincidence in each perfectly crafted sequence, and yet the biggest favorite will likely prove to be "The Wedding," the climactic final segment in which a bride from hell gives Rosamund Pike's "gone girl" a run for her money in the psychopath department.
As outrageous as each short is, the movie as a whole is a finely tuned, well acted piece of uproarious entertainment that you can sit anyone down in front of and they'll enjoy it immensely. It's not hard to see why the film proved so popular in Argentina, and further, why it's done so well in limited release here in the U.S. despite losing the Foreign Language Film Oscar to Poland's Ida. Word of mouth will work its magic with this one for years to come, and so here's me doing my part to get the word out in what little way I can. See this movie and take some friends with you. It's the kind of film the phrase, "a great time at the movies" was made for.
* * * 1/2