Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Wild Tales’ (2014)

Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes), from Argentine director Damian Szifron, is a film of six stories, each one a tale about people getting even. Vengefulness and retaliatory measures, as responses to offensive acts, have been around since the beginning of time. And, if animals retaliated in bestial ways when their kill was poached, Szifron makes it clear there’s only a short distance that separates how humans and four-legged creatures even out the score.

Wild Tales’ featurettes are all dynamic gems, with characters fueled both by archetypal Mars anger at the affront, and deadly Plutonic you’ll-be-sorry-you-ever-did-this-to-me payback. The operative word here is deadly: many of the mini-movie’s characters’ intentions are indeed murderous.

In the first segment, which occurs on a plane in flight, the severity of retaliatory payback seems way more excessive than the wrongdoers’ past behavior warrants. The disconnect, however, sets up the premise that vengeance is dangerously irrational. From this point on, Szifron only ups the ante as Mars-related objects and activities – explosions, fiery outbursts, car crashes, and upheaval – spice up the undercurrent of Plutonic deadliness.

A waitress in a rural eatery realizes a customer is a local gangster who drove her father to suicide, and the older female cook pushes for poisoning him. In another, one driver on a deserted highway takes the arrogant road manners of another driver very much to heart; through Mars’ association with motion and maleness, successive attempts at oneupmanship results in a remarkably eerie and poetic conclusion. And in another, a father trying to buy an alibi for his son, who’s been involved in a deadly hit-and-run car crash, turns the tables on his contractors.

The final segment, about a new bride who discovers that her groom has had sex with one of the wedding guests after the couple has taken their vows, is a comical and cutting look at female comeuppance and the bride’s deep desire to effect retribution at her own wedding reception.

However, the vignette with the best balance of interior and external incendiary dynamics is “Bombita.” Simon (Ricardo Darin) is unforgivably late getting to his young daughter’s birthday party because his car has been towed from a location without signage that it’s a no-parking area. The twist here is that Simon is an explosives expert. And his revenge against the towing, fines and bureaucratic idiocy involves using detonation, a physical expression of his internal powder keg.

Whether physical death is part of retaliatory measures, there is a loss – of one’s civility, relationship or innocence – and the horror that one has even contemplated such dark urges. When it comes to retribution, there are no victors.

Archetype: Revenger. Avenger. Retaliator. Vindictiveness. Retribution.

Astrology Archetype: ♂ ♇ (Mars, Pluto)

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