Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Wild Tales

(Relatos salvajes, Spain, Argentina, 2014)

Part One: Pasternak. A man and a woman get to talking aboard an airliner as it is taking off. She speaks of her first boyfriend, Pasternak, a failed composer who she dumped many years ago. Upon hearing the name the man tells her, with some surprise, that he is a music critic, and was on the panel who totally ravaged Pasternak’s work and ruined his musical career. Behind him, a woman can’t believe her ears, because she was P’s teacher. She remembers him badly. Very quickly, it emerges that everyone aboard the plane is involved with P, and he has his reasons for disliking all of them. Then a flight attendant comes down the aisle, in tears, telling everyone that P is the chief steward, he has locked himself in the cockpit, and the pilots are not answering. The plane starts a steep descent …

Another nominee for Best Foreign Language film, and once again, it’s miles better than the one that did win, Ida. This is an anthology, six stories that are not connected except that they all deal with revenge. And most of them have a very satisfying twist in the tail, many of them worthy of Twilight Zone episodes, though this is not science fiction.

Part Two: Las ratas (The Rats) A bad man stops at a restaurant, and the waitress must decide if she will poison him or not.

Part Three: El más fuerte (The Strongest) A man driving through a desert is frustrated by a nasty redneck (rojocuello in Spanish?) and flips him off as he finally passes him. Then he has a flat, and as he’s fixing it … uh-oh. Here comes the rojocuello in his POS pickup. And he looks angry. This one is very, very black humor. I loved it.

Part Four: Bombita (Little Bomb) An explosive engineer gets increasingly frustrated after his car is towed away. This is probably my favorite, pure poetic justice.

Part Five: La Propuesta (The Proposal) The spoiled son of a very rich family hits and kills a pregnant woman and her fetus, and drives away. But the cops have the license number and will be here soon. So … can Jose the groundskeeper be persuaded to take the blame, if the money is right? Say, half a million dollars? Or, wait, maybe that’s not enough …

Part Six: Hasta que la muerte nos separe (Until Death Do Us Part) The wedding reception from hell. The bride hasn’t even danced with the groom yet, and already she is consumed with jealousy. This was the longest and probably my least favorite of the stories, and it’s unfortunate it’s at the end. But it’s not that bad, didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth.

All in all, this film is a delight if you like black humor. I was laughing a lot. It was produced by the brothers Almodóvar, Pedro and Agustín, written and directed by Damián Szifron, who is good enough to make the leap to Hollywood and big budgets, if he wants to.