Oscar nominee ‘Relatos salvajes’ shocks with vignettes of vengence and violence

The foreign film “Wild Tales” most certainly lives up to its name. It is an assemblage of six short films that all share the common theme of vengeance and violence.  Directed by the Argentine director Damian Szifron, the movie was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category. While the six story conglomerate is untraditional in its style, the difficult and resonating themes portrayed in each segment create an enthralling compilation.

“Wild Tales” is an Argentine-Spanish black comedy in Spanish with English subtitles.

Although, the film does not waste time shocking the audience, the first scene starts off seemingly normal, with passengers engaging in normal conversation as they board a plane and prepare for takeoff. However, things soon take a quick and bizarre turn for the worse as the passengers realize that they all share a connection to a man by the name of Gabriel Pasternak, who they have all wronged in some way. When the flight attendant informs the passengers that this man is the pilot of the flight, they realize that they are doomed.

The remaining five stories are no less violent or disturbing. Other vignettes from the film involve poisoning, bloody murder, explosions, road-rage gone bad, the use of multiple weapons and the visual representation of urination and excrement.

Despite lacking a cohesive plot line and certainly not lifting the spirits of the viewer, “Wild Tales” was enjoyable and profound, even if bizarre and often mildly uncomfortable to watch. In its own exaggerated way, the film touches on the natural human inclination for revenge and, at times, satisfied the desire for redemption, even at a high cost. The fluidity of the six different scenes and the common theme that each one shared prevented the movie from becoming confusing.

Music was used sparingly, but appropriately and complemented the overall emotions established by the action onscreen. The actors, though unknown to most American viewers, were talented and did well at maintaining the appropriate amount of ridiculousness and surrealism. The plot lines were riddled with sarcasm, irony and bits of humor. The acting went a long way toward fully conveying these elements, especially in light of the limitations of translation and subtitles.

Overall, the movie earns a four out of five stars for its unique format and engaging plot lines, great acting, stellar directing and fantastic use of surrealism. However, this recommendation comes with caution, as most mainstream viewers may be looking for something with a more traditional plot and style. Furthermore, viewers must be prepared for the numerous scenes that are openly graphic and offensive. For the viewer who wants something non-traditional, thought-provoking and slightly artsy, “Wild Tales” is a great movie that earns its status as an Oscar nominee.