Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes)

Directed By: Damián Szifron

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Oscar Martínez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Érica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg, and Darío Grandinetti

I normally am not one to review short films, but I must make an exception in the case of Damián Szifron's Wild Tales.  This Argentinian anthology of shorts offers the biggest laughs I've had in a movie theater since last year's Chef.  It's a rather insane series of films, but they all deliver incredible humor. The film features six shorts, all of which feature intriguing, downright savage stories.

In "Pasternak", two passengers meet on a plane ride.  One is a middle-age music critic.  The other is a young beautiful model.  Both have received free trips, and have a connection to a man named Gabrielle Pasternak.  They soon learn that this is the case for many other passengers on the aircraft.  In "The Rats" ("Las Ratas"), a waitress grapples with having to serve the man hat ruined her family long ago.  Meanwhile, the cook, an elderly woman who is a little rough around the edges, grapples with determining whether rat poison has an expiration date.  In "The Strongest" ("El más fuerte"), two rather aggressive drivers have a serious case of road rage.  Blood flows in this ultraviolent confrontation.

In "Dynamite" ("Bombita"), engineer Simón Fisher is having a hard time with the city government and its ridiculous parking regulations.  Having had his car towed time and time again without legitimate justification from the authorities, he's ready to challenge the system.  However, his fight will bear a personal cost.  In "The Proposal" ("La Propuesta"), a son takes his parents' car out for a joyride.  In a drunken stupor, he hits a pregnant woman and flees the scene of the crime.  Running home immediately, he leaves his legal troubles to his wealthy father.  Not willing to let his son go to jail, the father makes his groundskeeper an offer he can't refuse.  Finally, we have "Until death do us part" ("Hasta que la muerte nos separe").  For the featured newlyweds, holy matrimony quickly becomes holy hell on the dance floor of their wedding reception as the husband’s adultery becomes part of the nuptials.

Damián Szifron's Wild Tales may just be the best foreign language comedy I've seen since The Intouchables.  It's really one riotous affair that mines comedic gold time and time again throughout its two-hour runtime.  Though seemingly disjointed, the shorts in Wild Tales share several commonalities.  In terms of narrative structure, they all begin in a somewhat innocuous fashion laying out the details of the main characters' respective stories.  As events unfold, however, each of our characters is pushed to a point where they do something that's both undeniably crazy and utterly hilarious.  Stylistically, this translates to a consistent, albeit violent, storytelling method throughout each of the shorts.  Szifron meticulously crafts each entry in his anthology to yield a huge comedic payoff.

If you only see one foreign film this year, it better be Wild Tales.  This is far above the rest of the pack and offers as much entertainment as it does artistry.  Wild Tales gets a sober rating.  Don't miss this one.  Go discover your savage side.