Do you ever get the feeling you just want to break something, anything? Or someone, anyone?

It’s 93 degrees and the air conditioner breaks down. You’re on the highway in deep humidity, and you get a flat, and the new job is waiting for you, and all you have is a dollar-twenty. You want to take the tire iron and smash the windows out. But you don’t, you can’t. But out there in the world, there are people who do.

We all live in a world of tension, stress and the breaking point. That tiny edge you’ve been dancing around for weeks or months or years suddenly gets thinner and thinner, and there you are with a kitchen knife in your hand or a hammer. Or worse.

Sometimes the stress is unbearable, but we can’t break down. Maybe it helps to watch someone else do it?

Here’s your chance.

Argentine writer and director Damian Szifron is here to take the pressure off you, to show you a diverse assortment of ordinary folks who go crazy and do things they would never think of doing.

In “Wild Tales,” Szifron gives us people who can’t take it anymore, who, driven to the breaking point by society’s indifference to their needs, step out from behind the gates of civilized behavior and go for a walk in their inner dark jungle. The difference here is that Szifron writes comedy.

Without giving too much away — and there’s lots to give away here — Szifron opens the film with story one: The passengers on a flight prepare for take off. A woman drops a name that a man recognizes with fear. Within minutes, each passenger comes forward to share a story about the same name. They all know him, hate him, fear him.

As the plane taxis down the runway, they discover that the man they all loathe and fear, the bogeyman of their lives, is on board. Not only is he on board — I dare you not to laugh at the climax, sit back, clutch your chair handles, take a breath — there’s much more.

In another, there’s an explosive expert taunted by those faceless jerks at the parking ticket counter. His car is illegally towed, and he’s hit with a massive fine to boot. Things grow like a poison flower. There’s the smart-ass executive driving an expensive new car who is annoyed by the driver of a junk car. He rushes by and gives the poor man the middle digit. When smartass breaks down in the deserted vastness of a desert road, guess who comes along? What happens next is a ballet of cold rage, heat-driven insanity. It’s indescribable.

There’s the tale of sweet revenge between a waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) expecting a dull day when a gangster out of her past (Cesar Bordon) walks into her day and brings back memories of his actions against her family.

My personal favorite is the wedding day of the young bride (Erica Rivas) who stumbles upon her new happy husband’s (Diego Gentile) affair with a guest. (Remember Sonny Corleone’s dalliance at his sister’s wedding? This bride isn’t as forgiving.)

Szifron gives each of the tales — some disgusting, repulsive, and appalling to watch — a black comedy edge. You might not want to laugh, but you will, especially in the very last moments of the air flight episode. It’s Charlie Chaplain’s old explanation of comedy: A man slips on a banana and the audience howls. He may have broken his neck, he may have killed himself, but the audience laughs.

Sony pictures, which released the film, gives you a warning: Vulgar language, nudity, crude humor, violence, gore and adult themes. Banana skins not included.

J.P. Devine, a Waterville writer, is a former stage and screen actor.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: