Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) movie review: Story of a bride who feels cheated
Star Cast: Maria Marull, Dario Grandinetti, Julieta Zylberberg, Cesar Bordon, Rita Cortese, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Walter Donado, Ricardo Darin, Oscar Martinez, Osmar Nunez, Erica Rivas, Diego Gentile
Director: Damián Szifron
AN aeroplane full of passengers who have all hurt one person in some manner. A waitress on duty on a stormy night with her only customer a loan shark who had left her father dead. A rich man in an Audi who picks up a fight with a workman in a beat-up truck down a desolate highway. A demolition expert with rising rage against the “system”. A drunk rich teenager who runs over and kills a pregnant woman and her baby. And finally, a bride and groom from influential families whose wedding spectacularly explodes.
Relatos Salvajes or Wild Tales (sub-titled in English) is an Argentinian anthology film, comprising stand-alone short stories which are all ostensibly about revenge but really more about how tables can turn. Directed by Damian Szifron and co-produced by Pedro Almodovar, it is one of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
Wild Tales kicks off grandly with its first story, Pasternak, about the aeroplane whose passengers realise with growing dread the connection that binds them. Beginning with a model (Marull) who charms a music critic (Grandinetti) sitting in the row across from her, this story — the shortest — sketches quite precisely and funnily all the men and women who knew Pasternak as well as the kind of “artist” the latter may be.
The second story, The Rats, is the darkest, but again has humour in the form of a morbid cook (a superb Cortese) who insists they put poison in the loan shark’s food, and tries quizzically to determine its expiry date.
Road to Hell doesn’t have the delicate touch of either of the above two short stories, but seethes with the unsaid resentment brewing between the two classes — the Audi-driving ones, and the truck-wielding others.
Bombita is the most disappointing stretch of Wild Tales, as the demolition expert (Darin) is driven by less clear motives than the other stories. It is also way too long.
However, Szifron, who also wrote the screenplay, springs into step nicely with ‘The Bill’. Mauricio (Martinez), the kind of rich man who has a tasteful house in the middle of sprawling grounds, takes over when son Santiago drives in crying one night and confesses he has run over someone. He calls in their formidable family lawyer (Nunez), who goes about building a defence that includes getting the groundskeeper to take the blame. So far, so good. But in Szifron’s hands, even this otherwise predictable story takes a surprising turn, showing how power equations swing and sway.
The best though is reserved for the last. If Pasternak is short and satisfying, Till Death Do Us Part is longish and devouring. The story about a bride who feels cheated and has her revenge at own wedding is an emotional roller-coaster, dizzying, unsteady, cruel, hurtful, and all too human.