Titled Relatos Salvajes in the original Spanish, Wild Tales is billed as a series of tales involving desperate people. From my point of view, the tales all revolve around the themes of betrayal and or revenge. In each segment an incident or series of incidents drives one character to seek revenge upon another with varying degrees of success. Some sections are better made than others, some take a long time to get going while others jump right in. While individual segments are a bit hit or miss the overall effect is interesting.
1 Pasternak. A man takes revenge on everyone who was ever mean to him all at the same time and boy do there seem to be a lot of them! This segment introduces the film and its themes and just seems to be getting going as it ends leaving you wanting more but in a good way.
2 The Rats. A woman wants to take revenge on the man who bankrupted her family and caused her father to commit suicide but finds she doesn’t have the stomach for it. Fortunately she has friends to help her out. There is a very noir feel to this segment, the setting is a rundown diner in the middle of a storm with only one customer. The dingy setting and sense of isolation lend an eerie menace to even normal scenes; before the viewer knows anything sinister going on they can feel it as an undercurrent.
3 The Strongest. An incident of road rage leads to a confrontation that doesn’t end well for either participant. There is little background to this and it suffers from the viewer not having any grasp of the motivation behind the actions of either character. There are surprising moments of comedy as well as some serious violence and vulgar behaviour. The conclusion of the police officers investigating the incident at the end is worth waiting for. This segment feels like it might be loosely related to section 5 but probably isn’t.
4 Little Bomb. Everything seems to be going wrong for a demolition engineer. His car gets towed repeatedly, his wife and child dislike him and things get worse from there. His revenge tactic is perhaps the most obvious of the lot but is stylishly executed and satisfying nonetheless and the eventual end to the segment is surprising and heartwarming.
5 The Proposal. After a young man has a hit-and-run while driving his father’s car, the family turn to their lawyer and, bizarrely, their gardener for help. A lot of this segment is spent haggling over how much to pay people off to take the rap and cover things up which is a bit dull. The way the power in the relationships changes hands and back again several times over the course of the segment is interesting though. The revenge element is smallest of all segments.
6 Until Death do us Part. A seemingly idyllic and very expensive wedding comes off the rails as a betrayal is revealed and the revenge taken causes further rifts to spread among the guests. This section is stylish and uncomfortable in equal parts. Emotions run high between the main characters and their dispute polarises the wedding guests into two factions. Characters actions here seem unpredictable and unwarranted but this is probably because of the lack of back story. The ending is a bit odd but probably can be explained by high emotions and a lot of alcohol.
Overall these individual stories are well made and mostly interesting and fun. I would have liked to see some thread other than the overall concept linking them all together, something to make it feel less like a collection of shorts and more like a whole movie.