Film review: Wild Tales

For how unashamedly entertaining Wild Tales is, it’s a shame to know from the outset that people’s preconceptions are going to keep them from going to see it. A film that is equal parts engaging, exciting, melodramatic and hilarious, Wild Tales has two major “flaws” that will likely keep it from reaching the widest possible Anglophonic audience; it’s a Spanish-language film, made in Argentina; and while being feature length, it is actually a collection of six non-related short films by director Damián Szifron.

What might spread its reach a bit further is the attachment of the name Pedro Almodóvar to the movie poster. In terms of tone and comedy this film is very much a descendant of the great Spaniard’s early madcap filmography. Indeed it seems Szifron has fully embraced the desire for entertainment and nothing more that came so easy to the director of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and What Have I Done to Deserve This?

As for the quality of the individual shorts, opinions vary of course, but the breakdown is thus; one average film, one good film, two great films, two fantastic films. Thankfully the fantastic ones bookend the film, so you’re on board very early, but you’re also sent off in glorious fashion. Also, it’s worth thinking about how many feature films could be sectioned off into six separate pieces and be individually as entertaining as each section of Wild Tales. This film does not delay the satisfaction to the end, in fact, satisfaction abounds.

What makes the film succeed as one feature length presentation as opposed to a series of individual shorts is that the themes of violence, revenge and over-the-top humour permeate the six films. This means that the emotion you carry over from each short is built upon in the next, rather than forcing you to react to comedy in one film and serious drama in the next. This is no mean task to get right, and because the tone is so well maintained throughout and because it is just so damned entertaining, Wild Tales is one mad joyous burst. In cinemas 27 March 2015. Watch the trailer here.

Stephen Murphy

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