Argentinian writer-director Damián Szifrón's Wild Tales
is loose-limbed, rowdy, and exhilarating — in its vibrant lunacy, and with its cartoonishly brash violence, it's a little bit Almodóvar, a little bit Tarantino. It has so much feral, prickly energy that it gives off warmth rather than the coldness you might expect from a movie that gives us nothing but people doing terrible things to one another -- screaming, cheating, and generally making life hell -- and leaves us with no reassuring answers beyond a wink and a good-natured shrug. It's a collection of sketches, six in all, which have virtually nothing to do with one another aside from their astute, and not necessarily generous, view of human nature.
As with all movies stitched together from discrete mini-stories, some sections work better than others. The best: In "Road to Hell," an asshole speeding down the highway in a fancy new Audi (Leonardo Sbaraglia) yells "Redneck!" as he passes an unshaven thug in a dirty truck (Walter Donado). Then -- naturalmente -- Audi Guy gets a flat tire, and Mr. Redneck proceeds to make his life miserable, using every tool at his disposal (including some you really won't want to recall while you're eating). In "Till Death Do Us Part," a bride (Erica Rivas) discovers that her groom (Diego Gentile) has cheated on her -- the proof drops during
the reception. After that, chaos reigns.
But in the end, Szifrón can't turn fully away from humanity. When we stop and look at ourselves, accepting our flaws and those of other people, we're not so bad. Or maybe it's just that we're the hell we know.