Can a movie full of short stories actually work and win an Oscar? The answer is yes, it definitely is possible. Relates Salvajes (Wild Tales) shows that and does this almost perfectly!
Six short stories show various ways in which savagery persists in the highest levels of civilization. The titles appear against a montage of wild animals. The twist is that here the savagery is celebrated not rued. Where civilization was supposed to free us from savagery, as in the American Western, here the savagery liberates the characters from their civilization. As director Damian Szifron told the Palm Springs festival audience, “The theme is the pleasure of losing control. Releasing the beast.” In each story a modern frustration wells up until the character erupts. All the stories involve a furious revenge, with a broadening range of characters. To convey the tensions in modern life, ordinary sounds are amplified, like the luggage wheels in the opening shot.
The film has become one of the most graphic, accurate and enthralling depiction of what modern times are doing to modern people. It is hard not to feel portrayed by these hyperbolic and extremely appealing characters and situations, despite the fact that none of us (and I hope it will never happen) have to live the extreme circumstances shown in this movie. In terms of cinematography this film is flawless: stylistic and technique are subordinated to storytelling in a way we don ‘t see in many movies. In terms of the tonal range is wide and empathic, with a chord of healthy black humor running underneath the six stories. These actors and actresses are well known and very much loved in Argentina, they deliver some of the best performances in years of excellent and high quality acting careers.
Relatos Salvajes or “Wild Tales” is a complex construction of “right on target” choices, solid screenplay, skillful direction, and superb acting. And above all else the feeling of what movies mean to us: a particular time and space where we can see the best and the worst of us, to make our lives better. I can’t recommend it hard enough! I wouldn’t be surprised if it steals the oscar tonight.
Relatos Salvajes gets an 8.6/10.