Sunday, 24 May 2015

No.209 : Wild Tales

Sometimes in life one’s pointless endeavours collide, as has happened here when my desire, nay need, to keep up to date with all the films on the IMDb Top 250 list produced an unseen ‘W’ film. To be honest it’s actually a ‘R’ film  as the title is ‘Relatos Salvages’ but given my meagre readership can barely understand English, never mind Spanish, I’ll go with the translation ‘Wild Tales’ as that’s what’s on the poster.

The film is from Argentina, a country you may feel is better suited to steaks and invading, but to be fair this is pretty good and was that country’s Foreign Film entry to the 2015 Oscars - didn’t win though!

Six standalone vignettes, or stories to you, make up the film and each focuses on an element of extreme behaviour, with things normally starting out in a sedate manner, before flying wildly off the tracks. You sometimes see films like ‘Happiness’ use the multiple strand format and then intertwine the stories so that the man in story one is a patient of the doctor in story three and the plumber in story two cleans the septic tank of the woman in story four, but not here. Each story stands alone with a separate cast and is about twenty minutes long, which is helpful if you need to frequently visit the toilet or fridge.

The first story concerns two passengers on a flight who, after a brief conversation, discover they have a person in common. Another passenger pitches in that she knows him too before it is quickly established that everyone on the flight has crossed paths with this one mysterious figure. Is it a cosmic coincidence or are more sinister forces in play? It’s the second one! This story only lasts a few minutes and is played out before the titles, ably setting the tone for what is to follow.

Next up a waitress encounters a rude customer whom she recognises as the man who drove her father to suicide. The female chef encourages her to lace his dinner with rat poison arguing that his death will be attributed to the food rather than poison - clearly  not a restaurant to seek out! Things are complicated when the man’s son appears and starts helping himself to the chips - is the food poisoned? and can this end well?

A familiar opening next as a driver is held up on the road by a slow moving banger. Given it's the middle of nowhere the driver giving the finger on passing can’t be a good idea and so it proves when he gets a flat and his tormentor pulls up behind. An escalating game then plays out with a nice line in being dumped upon taking centre stage. Once again things start to spiral towards an inevitable but satisfying conclusion.

By now you have an idea where the film’s mindset is and when the next character is introduced carrying out his day job as a demolition expert you know the parking attendants who blight his life would do well to leave him alone. Of course they don’t and although the pay off is the most predictable of the stories, it was well handled as was the fall out of his actions.

The penultimate story opens with a spoiled rich boy arriving home in Daddy’s bashed up car. We learn that he has hit and killed a pregnant woman and rather than leave him to take his medicine his father and his lawyer try to buy his way out of the crime by bribing the local prosecutor and by paying his handyman to take the rap. The seedy plan starts to unravel when everyone gets greedy and the wages of sin hold their usual pitfalls.

The last story is the longest and perhaps the weakest. At her wedding reception a bride discovers her husband’s infidelity and sets about evening the score by copping off with a chef and smashing up her rival. As the cake hits the deck can the marriage be pulled back from the brink?

As with any anthology some stories are stronger than others but this film does well to maintain a consistently high standard. The acting was excellent and I was willing on the often reprehensible characters. There were plenty of surprises and a few laugh out loud moments as well as plenty to ponder.

If foreign language films aren't usually your thing, give this a go. The stories are brief and demonstrate that the human foibles we possess are universal and if you don’t take to a set up or the characters there’s another story and cast just a few minutes away.

Best Bit - Incoming! 20/23

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