The Argentine movie "wild tales" (Relatos Selvajes), which I saw last week, was a new and different experience from all the other Latin American films I have seen. It has had the most powerful impact on me with its vivid portrayal of human character. The film has six different and unrelated stories but have a common theme of people going out of control with violence and vengeance. Some people contain their emotions at the frustrations faced in the daily life situations but others especially the Argentines tend to explode and go berserk. This movie is about such Argentine characters and their 'pleasures of losing control' in a funny and scary manner.
The six stories of the film are: "Pasternak", "Las Ratas" ("The Rats"), "El más fuerte" ("The Strongest"), "La Bombita" ("Little Bomb"), "La Propuesta" ("The Proposal") and "Hasta que la muerte nos separe" ("Till Death Do Us Part"). While the characters and themes of each story is fascinating and memorable, the ones I enjoyed the most are the following:
-The cook in the "Rats" story, who explains coolly, logically and clinically her suggestion to kill with rat poison the loan shark client in the restaurant.
-The explosives expert (Ricardo Darin) in La Bombita, who explodes in anger at the traffic fine collectors and bombs their office. Ricardo Darin, my favorite Argentine actor, is a master in portraying the typical Argentine character.
-The unscrupulous lawyer in the story "La propuesta" who negotiates the deal to save the boy whose drunken driving kills a pregnant woman and her baby.
- Romina, the bride who goes berserk during the wedding celebration when she finds out about the affair between her husband and his coworker.
The film, released in 2014, has been directed by Damian Szifron, the director who wrote twelve short stories of which he has included six in the film. I hope he will make another film with the other six stories. In an interview to New York Times, Damian said, “Society is full of people who repress themselves, and thereby become depressed. We fantasize about what we could have done, what we should have said, and we argue to ourselves with an imaginary enemy who is no longer there. But some people explode. This is a movie about those who explode, and we can all understand why they explode.” Some of his stories have been based on his own experience ( his car was towed away many times for parking in places not clearly marked as No Parking area) and those of his friends.
The Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar, known for his off-beat films, is a coproducer of this film. The themes and characters in the film are natural fits to Almovadar's own signature style.
The music, composed by the Argentine music director Gustavo Santaolalla, enhances the sensation of following the roller coaster ride of the stories and the suspense of building up of the momentum before the ride. Gustavo (who has won two Oscars) has composed music for Aamir Khan's film" Dhobi Ghat" besides Hollywood hits such as ' Brokeback mountain' and 'Babel'.
The film brought back memories of my experience of living in Buenos Aires for over four years. What I like specially about my Argentine friends is their character to be perfectly natural and spontaneous without trying to hide or block their emotions. The Argentine character is unique and distinct from that of other Latinos. They are far more intense and loud in complaining, criticizing, and analyzing everything. While articulating their feelings, the Argentines are satiric, cynical and inventive with sophisticated black humour. There are many jokes about the famous 'Argentine ego' in Latin America. The Argentines themselves admit it with a sense of humor and even Pope Francis has joked about it. They are the Champions in swearing with the richest and most colorful vocabulary. I had seen so much of it during golf games in Argentina. They cannot complete a sentence without cursing 'Boludo'. (asshole) and 'Pelotudo'(stupid). I have, in my collection, a book titled " El Pelotudo Argentino – manual para identification e uso" ( Stupid Argentine- manual for identification and use).
This book contains hilarious classifications and descriptions of pelotudos Argentinos, such as pelotudos Portenos (residents of Buenos Aires city) and provincial kind, bureaucratic, romantic and Peronist types and New Age pelotudos wearing traditional Hindu dress sitting in yoga position pretending to be like Gurus. There is a mirror in the front cover of the book to help the reader to be introduced to the pelotudo !!!The Argentine film " me case con Boludo" ( I have married an asshole) portrays a typical Argentine with a huge ego who admits at the end, " yo no soy un persona..soy un personaje" ( I am not a person..I am a charater). It is, therefore, no surprise that Buenos Aires has one of the highest number of psychiatrics per capita in the world.
The Argentines complicate even the simplest things by too much complex and critical analysis. Once when I explained how India is a complicated country due to people speaking different languages and unable to understand each other, an Argentine commented, " In Argentina we speak only one language but we still don't understand each other. In India you know at least the reason for not understanding each other but here we don't know why. That’s why Argentina is more complicated than India". For Argentines, every little thing is like the Aleph ( a point in space that contains all other points and reveals everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously) in the famous story of Borges.
I have seen a number of Latin American films. I would dare to say that the Argentines are the best film makers in the region. They are more profound than their Mexican, Brazilian and Colombian counterparts. The Argentine movies are thought provoking besides offering entertainment. The Indians will have a taste of this in the forthcoming Argentine film " Thinking of him", directed and produced by Pablo Cesar with the story of the romance between Tagore and Victoria Ocampo, an Argentine literary socialite.