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Tales of the disproportionate

A wild Argentine portmanteau

Nicholas Barber | March/April 2015

Why aren’t there more anthology films? From “Dead of Night” to “Pulp Fiction”, the best ones combine the instant gratification of a 20-minute short with the nourishing satisfaction of a full-length feature, yet, even in these attention-deficient times, there are not many being made. Maybe Damián Szifrón’s “Wild Tales” will spark a resurgence.

Argentina’s submission for the Oscar for best foreign-language film, duly nominated, this 
Almodóvar-produced portmanteau offers six stories for the price of one, each of them a macabre parable about someone being riled by modern metropolitan life and then taking their outrageous revenge. In one sequence, a bride (Érica Rivas) is at her wedding reception in a glitzy hotel when she spots her new husband’s mistress. In another, a demolition expert (Ricardo Darín, from “The Secret in Their Eyes”) has his car towed away at just the wrong moment. There are serious undercurrents: corruption, inequality and the concept of a proportionate response. But, more importantly, Szifrón’s tales of the unexpected hit you with blast after blast of explosive comedy and spiralling insanity. At a critics’ screening in Cannes last year, the audience cheered at the climax of the first, flawless segment. And there were still five more to come. ~ Nicholas Barber

Wild Tales Opens in Britain Mar 27th


FILM AT A GLANCE

Suite Française (out now). Michelle Williams plays the French villager falling for the Nazi (Matthias Schoenaerts) billeted in her home. A handsome adaptation of Irène Némirovsky’s acclaimed novel, written in 1942, discovered in 1998, and published in 2004.

Mommy (out now). Xavier Dolan is 25, but “Mommy” is his fifth film in five years. Fizzing with jittery energy, it’s an Oedipal tragicomedy, starring Anne Dorval as a fiercely devoted mother and Antoine-Olivier Pilon as her out-of-control teenage son.

While We’re Young (Apr 3rd). After making “Frances Ha”, the definitive comedy about the agonies of the twentysomething hipster, Noah Baumbach moves on to the agonies of not being a twentysomething hipster any more. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are uncomfortably hilarious as the middle-aged couple struggling to keep up with their new friends (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried).

A Little Chaos (Apr 17th). Forbidden love blooms among the roses as Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) employs a widowed horticulturalist (Kate Winslet) to design his “gardens of exquisite and matchless beauty”. The way Rickman utters those words is worth the ticket price alone. Matthias Schoenaerts is the love interest again, as he also is in the forthcoming “Far from the Madding Crowd”.

Child 44 (Apr 17th). Tom Hardy is a Soviet ex-secret policeman investigating a serial killer with links to Stalin’s government. His co-stars include Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Vincent Cassel and Paddy Considine, so Daniel Espinosa’s thriller should have 2015’s most scarily intense cast.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Apr 24th). The Lion d’Or winner at Venice 2014, Roy Andersson’s absurdist comedy is a series of gloomily funny, expertly staged, Pythonesque tableaux. ~ NB

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