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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

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

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Rod Ribeiro

    Do you think it deserved the Oscar instead of Ida?

  • No.

  • JHeller


  • Alejandro

    What? “Argentina’s endemic political and civic corruption”? The film is an exaggerated satire of modern reality in the world, not the reality Argentina in particular by words of Damian Szifron itself. Argentina has problems of corruption like many other countries but is not so terrible as to say it is “endemic”, that’s insulting. What is shown in the movie is just a satire! is not real! Do you really believed that bureaucracy shown during the short “Bombita” is actually happens in Argentina? Wow what a jerk.

  • Alejandro

    Touche. I have to be envious of those countries that know how to keep their corruption in top secret.

  • Meaning…?

  • Rod Ribeiro

    Sorry, Alejandro, but it does happen — not only in Argentina, but Latin America in general. Some corruption is everywhere. A powerful person trying to buy his son’s way out of jail could happen anywhere in the world (although in most civilized places the price tag would certainly be higher than shown in the film). But the combination of strict laws on paper with unpredictable and unreliable law enforcement in practice, and the government at its own service, that’s pretty much only in Latin America.

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