Following on from the brilliantly comic opening sequence to Argentine picture Wild Tales, it comes as little surprise to then see Pedro Almodovar’s name crop up in the opening credits in a producer role. This film bears shades of the auteur’s surrealistic, whimsicality that has served him so well across an illustrious career. That being said, the aforementioned opening scene – depicting an unlikely set of events on an airplane – provokes more laughter in five minutes that in the entirety of the esteemed filmmakers most recent endeavour, I’m So Excited.
That very first sequence is one of six short stories that make up this picture, each relatively similar in length, and all written and directed by Damian Szifron. We see the altercation that transpires from relatively harmless road rage, a father putting his livelihood in jeopardy for the sake of a parking ticket, a wedding gone horribly wrong, a waitress bumping in to an old acquaintance, and a more satirically inclined closing segment, of a spoilt teenager running somebody over in a car accident. Each short picture tied together by the common theme of people being pushed to the limit, losing control – and sadistically enjoying it – in relatable, everyday situations.
This dark comedy bears a resemblance to the likes of British sketch show The League of Gentleman, deranged, surreal and absolutely hilarious in parts. What certainly helps is the consistent tone, which is thanks to having the same director throughout. Whereas The Turning, for instance – which is also showing at London Film Festival – makes for a far more disjointed piece, with a series of short movies all made by different filmmakers, and the picture suffers accordingly.
With a fine cast – consisting of the likes of Ricardo Darin and Dario Grandinetti, Wild Tales makes for an immensely entertaining trip to the cinema. The one, overriding and recurring theme, it seems, is that of comeuppance, or karma, If you will – and the harrowingly dark consequences we can face for our somewhat common misdemeanours. You’ll never raise your hands in anger and curse at a fellow driver on the road ever again, believe me.