Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Wide World of Vengeance

Is revenge really a dish best served cold? Director Damian Szifron tested that theory in his 2014 anthology film Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes), composed of essentially six short films, each about violent revenge in one way or another. Each short differs in making support or condemnation of revenge explicit but each story is entertaining, funny, and exciting, only the last story dipping in quality a bit but even that one's not bad.

The final story pits a bride and groom against each other when it's revealed that the latter has been cheating on the former. The comedy is a bit broad in this one and the violence a little predictable but it's elevated a bit by Erica Rivas as the bride who has a delightfully expressive face.

If I have a favourite story of the bunch, It might be the fifth story, the tale of a young man who comes home to his wealthy parents' house after he hit and killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child with his car. He fled the scene and the parents quickly get their lawyer over who helps them put together an alibi and find a willing fall guy in the gardener who accepts the promise of 500,000 dollars in exchange for going to prison instead of the kid. It's all very solemn and Szifron sets up the situation well. I didn't feel remotely bad for the kid but the story doesn't focus on him and the spot the parents find themselves in his a bit more complicated to ponder. But the nice thing is, even this doesn't turn out to be the heart of the story as the father (Oscar Martinez) gradually realises that his lawyer might be skimming a little more money off the situation than warranted and the gardener, meanwhile, decides he can get more than 500,000. Suddenly the father switches to negotiator mode and starts having to modulate how much concern he shows for his son and you start to wonder if he's willing to let the kid go to jail just to spite the guys trying to get 1.5 million out of him. The level of the kid's crime makes it more believable and it creates a fascinating tight rope of suspense.

An earlier story about road rage is more entertaining on the level of Peter Griffin versus the chicken while a story about a restaurant owner being convinced by her cook to poison a gangster works out to be an allegory for a government's volatile political situation. All the stories have something good about them, the performances are generally nice, the cinematography is a little boring, relying too much on blue and yellow colour tinting.

No comments:

Post a Comment