Recently announced for the nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 87th Academy Awards, Wild Tales (the original Spanish title is Relatos Salvajes, which actually translates to “Savage Tales”) is an anthology film composed of six standalone tales united by two main themes: revenge and violence. I can’t say a lot about the individual stories, as each one reveals its own twists and turns that me explaining them would spoil the experience of watching the film. This is why this review is much shorter than what I’m normally accustomed to writing. Though I will say that the first story, my personal favorite of the tales, has an outstanding build-up by playing with our expectations and setting out the mood and tone of each tale yet to come: this film is a dark comedy.
Dark comedy is a very hard thing to do, because it has to fall between the lines of tragedy and comedy, and tragedy isn’t meant to be funny at all. For dark humour to work, it can’t sound too real or too cynical in nature, but it can’t be treated so lightly that the weight of the tragedy is lost, or that it stops being relatable. Here, that strange balance is achieved here.
What works so well in each story is that the characters are sympathetic enough to understand their motives for revenge, even though the way they achieve their goals can be very outrageous. Each story relates to a moment when you just get angry and want to scream. You just want things to go your way for once! You didn’t do anything wrong! Here, these moments range from someone cheating on you, or something simple like being forced to pay for a parking ticket. And their actions become so ridiculous and extreme that you can’t help but find it hilarious. Obviously not all stories follow that exact formula: the second story is a bit different, but it’s nonetheless very funny and has great suspense as well, with one character trying to convince another that it’s actually a good idea to take revenge, which is funny because she’s making it sound like revenge is something very normal and something that would be anyone’s direct response.
The only story I didn’t feel was that funny was the fifth story which had some good jokes, but I felt it was treated a bit more seriously than the other tales, and the main difference was that the characters weren’t actually partaking in revenge. While these are vengeful actions, somehow we’re still able to understand, even sometimes relate to that insanity, often caused by one or more characters. You know the feeling when you’re so impatient or furious about something and end up saying something like, “I just wanna KILL something!” Well, these people are crazy enough to carry out that action. The actors capture the over-the-top nature of their characters, and every story is handled with great irony and a great commentary about the human condition when it falls out of order.
If you haven’t seen it, I say go watch it. This is easily one of the best dark comedies I have ever seen and one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Heck, it’s perhaps one of the best comedies I have ever seen!