Nominated for the 2015 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film (unfortunately losing to “Ida”), “Wild Tales” is like no other film I have seen in recent years. This dark series of six vignettes channeling “Twilight Zone” and “Black Mirror” is the surreal creation of Argentine writer-director Damián Szifrón and produced by Pedro Almodóvar (of “Volver” and “All About My Mother” fame). Grudges, minor insults, infidelity, and heinous crimes all lead to mayhem, revenge, and murder on a cataclysmic, sometimes savage scale.
While the first tale is my favorite, all six have scathing, psychological portraits of individuals who have a short fuse, a great sense of entitlement, and/or little capacity for forgiveness.
The characters of Wild Tales are unpredictable: civilized with good manners one minute and barbaric the next. Each of the Wild Tales is darkly humorous yet horrifying, signature trademarks of Almodóvar.
This movie plays to the viewer’s wish to enact revenge on anyone who’s ever wronged you, even a slight such as rude service from a waiter, a critical review, or someone driving irresponsibly on the highway. We’re all familiar with those thoughts, but few of us act on them. The characters in this film do. The nuances are perfectly articulated, the observations primal, and the tragedies heart-wrenching and unexpected. In addition, “Wild Tales” is a social and political commentary on the divide between the have-nots and the have-a-lots, a chasm that reaches the breaking point in several of the tales. No one is tamed in ”Wild Tales”—it’s a jungle out there.