Wild Tales is a remarkable film from Argentina showing in six vignettes a range of human emotions and coping techniques in response to stress. In all the tales, emotional press (animal instincts, perhaps, in that beautiful close-ups of animals in the wild are shown during the initial credits) usurps logic and good old problem solving in reaction to government bureaucracy and corruption, personal betrayal, and greed. It is a struggle against ubiquitous narcissism in a world without charity, and broaches the question about whether it is paranoia or reasonable fear that people are experiencing. This is Argentina’s submission to the Academy Awards for the Foreign Language prize.
In the first story, casual conversation on a plane reveals that almost everyone onboard has had some kind of relationship with a man named Gabriel Pasternak. Lo and behold not only his ex-girlfriend, but his psychiatrist, grade school teacher, music critic, childhood friend, and rejecting lover are all present, and indicting him for being so difficult. He is shown to reject people at the slightest provocation and carry a deep and abiding resentment. (This is shown graphically at the end of the tale by a plane, presumably piloted by Pasternak, descending full speed toward an elderly couple—perhaps his parents—in their backyard.) Revenge.
In the second vignette, a waitress is outraged by the appearance of a customer who has betrayed her family, and he does not even recognize her. The cook’s solution is outright revenge of the violent kind, reasoning that he deserves to die; and besides, prison isn’t so bad—your rent and food are paid for and you can just relax and enjoy your friends there. Another kind of revenge
The third vignette highlights rage—in particular, road rage—when a slower, junk-heap car does not yield to an Audi, and even moves back and forth between two lanes to keep the Audi from passing. The two male drivers have a number of verbal and nonverbal altercations, neither ever giving up in deadly struggles. Empty revenge.
In the fourth, Simon, an explosives engineer who has just organized the demolition of a building, heads for home, but must stop on the way for his daughter’s birthday cake. On the way, he gets a parking ticket, has his car towed for “illegal” parking, and gets stalled in a traffic jam. That’s not the end of his trials; his car gets towed three more times and he undergoes significant losses when he decides to fight back by putting some explosives in his trunk and waiting for it to be towed by a corrupted city agency. It looks like he is going to lose everything—his family, his job—when he becomes a hero called “Dynamite” who has effectively fought against city corruption. He does, however, have to spend time in prison. Partial revenge.
The fifth vignette is more complicated. A young man is distraught after a car accident, which leaves his father in a severe dilemma, as his son is rather fragile emotionally, and the car is registered in the father’s name. Enter his attorney and the city justice system, which, in addition to cooking up a scheme of subterfuge, is clearly out after as much as they can possibly squeeze for themselves from the family. In this case, the father gets fed up with the greed, and remembering that his son has never respected him calls off the deal he has made—which could bankrupt him—but still must deal with his wife and son. Partial revenge.
In the sixth vignette, we see a happy couple at their wedding, joyously celebrating with their families, when the bride sees something that makes her suspicious about her new husband’s fidelity. This sends her into a jealous frenzy, feelings of mortification and embarrassment, and determination to get revenge, even if it means wreaking havoc on her own wedding. She makes threats that truly terrify her husband, and he—and his mother—have several reactions, but he finally “comes to”, uses good sense, and solves the problem. Revenge deflected.
Six tales that appear outrageous, but depict common human experience.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland