Wild Tales (Sony Pictures Classics, R)

wildthings sqWatching this 122-minute movie is not unlike binge-watching a crazy new show you just happened upon and immediately love.

 

 

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It seems like there’s a certain type of movie people think of when they think of a “foreign film.”  Looking at the recent Oscar nominees in the Best Foreign-Language Film category, there are several of these. The winner, Ida, from Poland, is slow-paced and black and white, and, of course, subtitled. Leviathan, a highly-regarded film from Russia that was also nominated, is in color, but has nearly twice the running time that Ida does, and is also slow paced.

But then, Argentina’s nominee, Wild Tales, isn’t like that at all. It’s big and crazy and funny and hugely accessible, and it goes down very easily. The film is broken up into six not-interconnected short stories, all of which are “wild,” as the title would have you believe, and the cumulative result of watching this 122-minute movie is not unlike binge-watching a crazy new show you just happened upon and immediately love.

This isn’t surprising coming from producer Pedro Almódovar, who is one of the most reliable filmmakers of the past several decades, regardless if you’re familiar with Wild Tales’ actual writer/director, Demián Szifron, or not. Szifron’s script here is full of great ideas and funny scenes and scenarios as to fill six feature films, so to have them all stuffed into this one film almost seems like sensory overload.

Though Wild Tales isn’t the sort of movie to rely on big plot twists that you didn’t see coming, there is a hell of a lot of pleasure in its storytelling here, and as such I am reluctant to give away too many of the goings-on. (Besides, with six separate plots to describe, that would eat up more words than my allotment for a film review.) Suffice it to say, the world Wild Tales depicts is one of mutually-assured destruction, where one person will either accidentally or intentionally offend or upset another, and the scorned sets out to take revenge. It generally doesn’t end well for anyone, and potentially has the power to scare you from road raging on the way home, or attending a wedding anytime in the near future, or flying on an airplane…

Really, Wild Tales is the type of film that has the power to convert those who are afraid of subtitled movies. It’s so relentlessly fun and unexpected and fast-paced, it’s hard for the uninitiated to find time to feel sorry for themselves for having to read subtitles for two straight hours. It’s smart enough for the smart people, it’s dumb enough for the dumb people—what more could you ask for? | Pete Timmermann

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