I wasn’t wild about this film

by Martin Hafer

Among last year’s nominees for the Best Foreign Language Oscar was the nihilistic Wild Tales. However, in the US it really wasn’t available in most cities until after the awards were given. This is actually not unusual for this category of film, as often they initially have a limited release in California (thus making it eligible for the Oscar) and then are later released in the rest of the country. Fortunately for me (or perhaps not), I happened to be in Philadelphia for its recent release. After having seen the film, I had a hard time believing it would be nominated for anything, let alone an Oscar.

The film begins with a scene that is disturbingly similar to the recent deliberate crash of a Malaysian Airliner. In this film, a disgruntled man arranges for all his enemies to receive free tickets for a dream vacation or a variety of other ruses. The people eventually realize they’ve been duped, but only after the plane is aloft, and too late for the passengers to prevent their possible demise.

Wild Tales
Written & Directed by
Damián Szifrón
Darío Grandinetti, María Marull, Mónica Villa
Release Date
20 February 2015
Martin’s Grade: D+

What follows are five more tales which all have the common theme of revenge. A few of them work (particularly the final segment–which is very funny) but many of them just seem very disturbing and gross. The audience is treated to seeing two characters vomit on camera as well as one defecating on camera….with a close up shot of the man’s anus so you could see it was real! Additionally, several of the stories just seemed ugly, disturbing and, in a couple cases, would seem to endorse violence as a means to dealing with your problems. Considering it’s supposed to be a comedy, I was just left shocked and horrified. And, perhaps, that is the intention of Wild Tales. It’s shocking and presents as comedy things which I didn’t find the least bit funny or entertaining.

While I found much of the film most distasteful, I cannot completely condemn the movie for several reasons. Segment two and six were quite good and seemed far less nihilistic. Also, while I didn’t like the tone of the other stories, finding them disturbing, the production was extremely well crafted. The acting, direction and cinematography were as good as anything you’d see anywhere.