This Oscar-nominated anthology from writer-director Damián Szifron is hard to classify. Imagine O. Henry writing episodes for “The Twilight Zone.” Six tales connected by the thread of revenge, Wild Tales is yet another fresh take on a cinematic style not often enough rewarded. Much like short stories are the novel’s younger brother, the anthology film lacks the respect of its fuller-lengthed sibling, yet this narrative structure rewards efficiency, unlocking doors barred to a feature.
Szifron’s six tales shock with violence and humor in equal measure. Before the opening credits, the prologue sets the stage for what to expect, and some more highbrow cinema patrons will certainly be surprised and perhaps delighted by what unfolds.
Even at its darkest, Wild Tales is never less than brilliant and finds some humor, even if discomfiting, to lighten it. It is hard to believe the Academy would ever have nominated this film were it not in a foreign language, though its vengeful tales are universal. Argentina has no more ownership over airplane travel, roadside diners, cross-country driving, parking violations, hit-and-runs and weddings than does the United States. I would hate to spoil any of the fun by revealing more than those slightest of synopses. Trust that Wild Tales will be one of the year’s more invigorating cinematic satires and not only for those whose tastes rarely stray this close to the border with exploitation.