Review

'Wild Tales' weighed down by clunky filmmaking

'Wild Tales' is a six-part anthology of revenge that offers little for audiences to care about

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but Argentine writer-director Damián Szifron allows it to sit until it congeals in the dreary six-part anthology "Wild Tales."

Each segment focuses on an act of vengeance, usually motivated by class or economic conflicts. A case of road rage involving a driver in a luxury car and one in an old clunker escalates into a double fatality. A cook stabs a corrupt politician who ruined the life of a waitress in her café. A sleazy millionaire is appalled at the greed of the lawyer, police investigator and groundskeeper he's trying to bribe to cover up his son's deadly hit-and-run accident.

But a short film is a fragile creation: Every frame must advance the plot, just like every word in a short story. At this point in his career, Szifron is too heavy-handed a filmmaker to create compelling miniature stories. His characters behave so rudely and crudely, there's no reason to care about what happens to them. The driver of the luxury car is a rich jerk, and the peasant hauler he battles has no personality. Even the demolition expert who fights the corrupt parking enforcement bureaucracy comes across as an irritating loudmouth rather than the folk hero he's supposed to be.

Technically, Szifron's work suggests high-end student filmmaking. He needs to work with a writer if he expects to reach general audiences.

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"Wild Tales."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes.

Playing: Landmark, Los Angeles.

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