WILD TALES (2014)

by williamldennis

Seven (I think it was seven) short vignettes about people living normal lives and getting pushed to their limits. Each story is unrelated but thematically linked.

What I love about this story telling structure is it more directly allows you to explore an idea around the broader human condition without being tied to its expression through one or a few central characters’ arcs. Here we ditch the protagonist in exchange for the same premise acted out in different ways.

It seems like a potentially dry, redundant effort however it couldn’t be farther from the case. So why does it work, dramatically? It’s all about setting the framework. The framework is two main pieces: the first is that anything can happen. We see this with the plane crash at the beginning – it’s so absurd and extreme that were brought into a filmmakers word where anything is possible. The second piece of the framework is that each story will escalate to some sort of absurdity. This creates almost the same viewing experience as watching a flash forward first (like traction). It makes the viewer have an idea of where we’re headed but now most interested in how we’re getting there. It’s the famous movie promise of ‘give people what they want in a way they don’t expect.’

The uncertainty of what and how the conflict will unfold leads to an entertaining tension that holds up for the duration of the film.

The final segment ends on an upbeat rather than the general emotional downbeats of the majority of the shorts. Perhaps the thesis is “most conflict is absurd and damaging, but in certain cases it brings the parties involved closer together.

The camera work and directing were amazing as well. I was especially appreciative of how deliberate the shots were and how well choreographed the blocking was. Most shots are very clearly conveying a message without being heavy handed. There are also several long takes where actors move in out and around the frame, closer and farther from camera, to further the plot. It results in a feeling of intentionality, control, and inevitability that lends itself to the themes of the film: in certain ways the characters seem to be less making they’re own decisions and simply are in a sort of escalating bad dream they can’t get out of – the fluid and intricate moves lend themselves to a certain omniscient energy – almost as if karma came back for its full revenge all at once.

Tired so going to sleep – but this is great storytelling and filmmaking that also pushes the format. Hard to ask for more. It gives you what you want in a way you don’t expect.

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