The Pocket Guide: The Argentine Oscar Pick to See Right Now
The Oscars are over. They’ve come and gone and so has the hype and buzz surrounding the major nominees. Birdman was fantastic, Boyhood may have been robbed, and The Grand Budapest Hotel made out like a bandit compared to bigger titles and more recognizable stars. Most of the nominated films are probably still playing and basking in the afterglow of Awards Season, but there is one in particular that you should seek out right now.
Wild Tales, the Argentine submission for Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars, is worth finding in theaters if for no other reason than that it is unlike anything else you’ve likely seen this year. Directed by Damián Szifrón and starring a who’s who of South American stars, Wild Tales is comprised of five riveting vignettes that explore what happens when people are pushed past the brink.
Each story hinges on a kind of gleeful and anxiety-inducing suspense. The first fantastic vignette sets the tone for the entire film and lets the audience know that there are no boundaries in these madcap stories of revenge. You’ll find yourself repeatedly wondering (in the best possible way) “how far will the characters go?” and “where is Szifrón possibly going to take this?”
But while violence and retribution are at the surface of each piece, what lies beneath is far more interesting. What ultimately pushes each of these characters over the top are the daily and often mundane assaults on their human dignity. From being disrespected at the DMV to being cheated on, small injustices build upon one another until each vignette’s inevitable eruption. It is through these explosions (some of them literal) that Szifrón expertly exposes the festering rage lurking within the very foundational elements of modern society, from marriage and family to money and industry.
Wild Tales is one of the rare films that will make you laugh, cover your mouth in shock, and then break your heart just enough. And it is a rarer film still because it does these things so successfully five times over.