Wild Tales (2014) is an exuberant, obsidian-black comedy of violence and vengeance. Divided into a series of isolated sketches, each one tells a short story about how quickly madness can rip through the vestiges of civilisation with the appropriate provocation. The opening and most successful sketch involves a passenger airliner, wherein the passengers gradually realise that they're all acquaintances - classmates, ex-girlfriends, teachers, psychiatrists - of one specific person, Gabriel Pasternak; an individual who has a bone to pick with all of them and has plotted an elaborate, all-inclusive revenge.
Targets come from within Argentine society - the lazy corruption of municipal politics; the family at the wedding - but there's also a disdain for rampant materialism which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. When a young man returns home having been involved in a hit-and-run incident that's killed a pregnant woman, his rich father at first tries to bribe his son's way out of it until he suspects he's paying over the odds, at which point he begins to shrewdly barter. It isn't always as clear cut. When, in a scene reminiscent of Steven Spielberg's Duel (1971), a yuppie offends a truck driver, the ensuing fight is one of mutually assured destruction. We laugh at the cartoonish logic of the violence without really caring who wins or loses. As we pass from one story to another the relentless savagery does get a bit grinding. In addition, at two hours in length, Szifron's film is perhaps one skit too long. Regardless, Wild Tales is an inventive, occasionally hysterical ride.
The 67th Cannes Film Festival takes place from 14-25 May 2014. For more Cannes coverage, simply follow this link.