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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) movie review: revenge served hot

Wild Tales green light

This anthology of six bleakly funny shorts is a mixed bag that ranges from anticlimactic but intriguing to “Oh my God, did I just laugh out loud at that?”
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A huge hit in its native Argentina and an Oscar nominee this year for Best Foreign Language Film, this anthology of six bleakly, blackly funny short films is a mixed bag that ranges from anticlimactic but intriguing to “Oh my God, did I just laugh out loud at that?” Writer-director Damián Szifron, variously borrowing the trappings of genres from suspense drama to action thriller to romantic comedy, connects the individual stories through themes of betrayal, frustration, and revenge that send up human foibles and cultural defects: one story revolves around a man who lashes out at lifelong maltreatment, some of it quite minor, via a most meticulous plan to get back at those who’ve wronged him; another mines outrageous humor from a confrontation between two men who cannot step back from an intractable machismo; two others reflect an utter fed-up-ness with Argentina’s endemic political and civic corruption that play out in ways by turns deliberate and unintended. The only familiar face to most international audiences is Argentinian national treasure Ricardo Darín, from his appearances in films including Nine Queens and The Secret in Their Eyes, but the nuclear-powered emotions on display here — rage, fear, exhaustion — hit hot buttons that know no cultural boundaries. And the overriding notion that a modicum of justice will out, if not always in ways that we may approve of, is ultimately very satisfying.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) for its representation of girls and women.

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Wild Tales (2015)
US/Can release: Feb 20 2015
UK/Ire release: Mar 27 2015

MPAA: rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality
BBFC: rated 15 (strong bloody violence, sex, strong language)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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