4 stars
The Argentinian director Damián Szifron’s film Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) comes with a lot of cred having won a swag of awards at the 2014 Argentinian Oscars, garnered a nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards and been in competition at Cannes.
The premise of the film came about from the director’s own perception of the inequality and injustice in life and was influenced by film anthologies such as New York Stories (directed by Coppola, Scorsese and Woody Allen) and Amazing Stories (produced by Spielberg). In Wild Tales, we enter a world where the characters cross that fine line between civilization and barbarism and, by doing so, create a grotesque black comedy that is thoroughly entertaining.

Szifron takes his audience on a rollercoaster ride of negative emotions. Split into six tales, the first, ‘Pasternak,’ is set on a plane and proves to be uncannily prescient when you think about this year’s Germanwings air disaster; in the fourth tale, ‘Bombita,’ we witness the absolute frustration experienced by Simón (Ricardo Darín - The Secret In Their Eyes / A Gun In Each Hand) when his car is repeatedly towed away until he simply can’t take it any more. Later segments cover stories encompassing revenge, road-rage, bribery and betrayal (illustrated by a wedding that goes horribly wrong).

Each story deals with ‘normal’ people who find themselves in situations that we can all relate to but, in these cases, normality flies out the window when the protagonists are pushed beyond their limits and lose all control. The other titles in this omnibus are ‘The Rats,’ ‘The Deal,’ ‘Road To Hell’ and ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ and each is as different as the other. It is difficult to judge which is the best as Szifron succeeds in placing his audience on the edge of their seats in most. These are people behaving very badly but you can’t help but cheer them on!

The film features a smorgasbord of the best Argentinian actors and actresses, some renowned and some unknown, with backgrounds from independent film, television and underground theatre. Each story is magnificently captured by Javier Julia’s (winner of many awards at the Argentinian Oscars) crisp cinematography. Credit must also go to the twice Academy Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla’s (Brokeback Mountain / Babel) fine soundtrack. It is also interesting to note that one of the co-production companies was Pedro and Agustin Almodóvar’s El Deseo and it’s easy to see why - Szifron’s work is very much in line with Pedro’s own crazy vision.

From the opening scene to the end credits, Wild Tales is a wild ride. Just when you think things couldn’t get any crazier, they do! To his credit, few director/scriptwriters can take their audiences to these extremes and leave them satisfied, but Szifron pulls it off. It’s fair to predict that there will be a much anticipated wait for his next work, especially if he has a hand in the script as well. Let’s hope it’s not too long before we are taken on another ride on the wild side and see more of this fine director’s vision, which he states is “… all about catharsis, vengeance and destruction. And the undeniable pleasure of losing control.”

Bring it on!


Previewed at Sony Theatre, Sydney, on 24 April 2015


Dario Grandinati
Rita Cortese
Leonardo Sbaraglia
Ricardo Darin

Damián Szifron

Damián Szifron

Argentina / Spain (subtitles)


122 minutes

May 21, 2015
Wild Tales (2014) on IMDb