Lots of movies being made today worship at the altars of anger, violence, and revenge. People are mad as hell about corrupt and greedy businesses, social inequality and injustice, and rampant incompetence everywhere you look.
Argentinian writer and director Damian Szifron has put together six tales that expose the stupidities and vileness of contemporary life. In each case, revenge is presented as the answer to whatever ails you. Throw caution, spirituality, and civility to the wind.
A few of these mini-movies depict mayhem as funny whereas others are deadly serious about the catharsis that revenge offers those who are ready to rumble with anyone who gets in their way.
1. Revenge as the Only Language the Ego Knows
"The eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth mentality is the only language the ego knows."
— Elizabeth West in Happiness Here and Now
In "Pasternak" a young man who sees himself as victimized and treated poorly by others exacts his own macabre form of revenge on them. He hasn't forgotten the pain and humiliation of the past and decides to take back his power. This brand of revenge is just what the twisted ego needs to feel good.
2. Revenge as Justice Delayed
"Revenge is barren of itself: it is the dreadful food it feeds on; its delight is murder and its end is despair."
— Friedrich Schiller
In "The Rats" a waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) confronts a villain (Cesar Bordon) from her past and wants to make him pay for his evil doings. The angry cook (Rita Cortese) is even more determined to do away with this scoundrel who is planning to run for mayor. Here revenge is presented as a means for the poor to create more justice in the world by getting rid of one more bastard.
3. Revenge and Road Rage
"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."
In "Road to Hell" we watch a rich Audi-driving man (Leonardo Sbaraglia) lose his patience on the highway with a slower driver (Walter Donado) who has purposely stopped him from passing. When he is called "redneck," this ugly fellow becomes the ultimate incarnation of road rage. Here revenge is depicted as the ultimate high of hatred. As the violence escalates, many in the audience were laughing and clapping.
4. Revenge as Being Necessary in an Imperfect World
In "Bombita" a demolition expert (Ricardo Darin) has his car towed away when it is parked in a legal zone. When he complains and explains the injustice, bureaucrats ignore him. When he wrecks revenge upon those who have wronged him, he is cheered as a hero. Here revenge is heralded as a necessary virtue in an imperfect world.
5. Revenge as a Way to Make the Rich Suffer
In "The Bill" a wealthy business man (Oscar Martinez) tries to use his money to stop his son (Alan Daicz) from going to prison for a hit-and-run crime. With the smell of money in the air, other greedy individuals swarm around the patriarch. Here revenge is saluted as a means of humiliating those who view themselves above the law.
6. Revenge and Forgiveness
"Forgiveness is fundamental to justice, but it requires the unlearning of deeply ingrained, culturally supported behaviors. It is like trying to untie a tight old knot."
— Erik Kolbell
In the last short film, "Till Death Do Us Part," the setting is a festive wedding reception for Romina (Erica Rivas) and Ariel (Diego Gentile). When she discovers that he has been unfaithful to her and that the woman is in the room, she goes ballistic turning into a wild woman of revenge. The energy of anger and hostility comes across vividly and we are almost completely exhausted when a surprise turns things around. But up until that point, here is another tale that celebrates revenge as a natural response to betrayal in relationships.
In the end, Wild Tales leaves us with the cynicism and lack of trust that is so widespread in today's society. It is summed up in this quotation:
"There is no such thing as justice, all the best that we can hope for is revenge.”
— Emilie Autumn