With Pedro Almodóvar on board as co-producer, it’s no surprise that Wild Tales is a camp blast of dark hilarity from Argentinian writer-director Damián Szifrón. Full of sound and fury, it’s a collection of stories about people who are, for one reason or another, fully pissed off. And there’s nothing quite as funny as someone in full strop unless, of course, you’re on the receiving end of it.
The first story suffers a bit from unfortunate timing – a pilot locks himself in the cabin and crashes his plane, exacting a terrible revenge on its passengers. As the scene revealed itself, there were some awkward gasps around the cinema from people who clearly hadn’t seen the Daily Mail moaning about it. It’s hard to watch in any other context now, although it’s stylishly done and a great opener.
Each of the six Tales introduces someone who on a normal day is probably a thoroughly charming person. But on this particular day, something gets so far under their skin that they’re overtaken with rage. Road rage, wedding rage, parking rage, it’s all here and in extremes. Things are broken – hearts, promises, windows – vengeance is taken in spades. It’s there in all of us, Szifrón is warning. And maybe not so far below the surface. So you know, you might want to stop rattling that sweet paper in the seat behind me.
Szifrón’s trick is to inject just enough humour to make you laugh even at the darkest moments. He takes you to the worst place, then drags you out of it with a moment of splintering humour – you’re open-mouthed with horror one minute and shaking with laughter the next. Plus there’s Ricardo Darin – you can’t go wrong with a bit of Darin.
Wild Tales is a whirlwind of spite with bursts of laugh-out-loud humour. A real joy.
Carancho is Argentinian for vulture – in this case, read ambulance chasers. The car crash rates in Argentina are quite shocking and would put any normal person off chancing it on their roads in any capacity. But it’s become a profitable business for insurance scammers like ex-lawyer Sosa whose main skill is persuading people to throw themselves in front of cars (after he’s knobbled them, Misery style) then claim compensation through his shady bosses. Who, of course, pocket far more of it than they pass on. It’s a miserable game but it seems to suit Sosa well until he gets the hots for an under pressure doctor, Lujan, and sees the error of his ways. But as in all noir thrillers, we know it’s never easy to get out of dodgy dealings, there’s always that one last job to finish… Where would noir thrillers be without it?
It’s gripping stuff, and filmed in the harsh amber lights of the night-time in Buenos Aires – it feels as grubby as the scams being carried out, like a series of Edward Hopper paintings that have got a bit smudged. Sosa is played by Ricardo Darin who I love mostly because he’s basically sexy Noel Gallagher (highly recommend Nine Queens and The Secrets in Their Eyes too, have just put them both back on my LoveFilm list). He is perfectly cast here as a man falling hard for someone who has her own dark shadows and is as relieved as he is to find someone to cling on to. Their romance is sweetly touching, especially the first date scene where Sosa tries to win a kiss.
Director Pablo Trapero takes you right along on Sosa and Lujana’s journey, dark and depressing as it is, and does a masterful job of swallowing you up in that murky world, then spitting you out at the end, albeit a little bit shaken. Great stuff.
This was one I missed at LFF this year (it won the Sutherland Award for most original first feature) so was glad of the chance to catch it this week. It’s the debut film from Argentinian director Pablo Giorgelli, the story of a lorry driver traveling from Paraguay to Buenos Aires who gives a lift to a woman and (unwittingly) her four month old daughter as a favour to his boss. That’s about it for storyline, don’t expect Love Actually.
The pair don’t say much – the first part of the journey is spent in frosty silence as Ruben, the driver, pretty much ignores Jacinta and her child, not offering her so much as a sip of water and leaving her to lug her bags into the lorry by herself. At one point he considers paying for them to go on the bus rather than put up with them any longer. Ruben doesn’t even ask her name until about halfway through the film but it’s a significant moment when he does. Prompted by his inability to remain grumpy in the face of an exceptionally adorable baby, the silences gradually become less uncomfortable and more companionable – when Ruben opens up about his own son, who he hardly knows, you get the feeling this is something he hasn’t talked about for a long time. By the final scene, which is as halting and tender as the rest of the film, you’re in no doubt of what has passed between them.
It’s one of the most honest portrayals of falling in love that you’ll see on screen – the anxiety, insecurity and fear of new relationships are all reflected here and despite the long scenes where nothing happens, you can’t take your eyes off the two of them. Well. three of them – the baby puts in a great performance too. And there’s something about those logs Ruben is hauling that we see mainly in his rearview mirror. They are always watching – silent and stoic witnesses to the life changing events going on up front.