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CANNES WATCH: Comic romp 'Wild Tales' a fest hit

CANNES, France (AP) — The six darkly satirical stories that compose the Argentine romp "Wild Tales" added up to a breakout hit at the Cannes Film Festival.

With the film's producer, Pedro Almodovar, looking on, Argentine director Damian Szifron emphatically arrived in Cannes on Saturday as a new comic voice with his "Wild Tales," a romp of blown tempers and extreme revenge.

Each tale spirals explosively from an initially slight encounter: A demolition engineer's car is unjustly towed; a driver flips off another on a desolate road; a bride sees her groom flirt with a wedding guest. All gradually descend into mayhem.

"I think that people lead very stressful lives," Szifron said. "You can't repress your feelings all the time. That takes too much effort." "Sometimes," he added, "people just explode." At the Cannes Film Festival, where most films in competition for the Palme d'Or are heavier dramas, "Wild Tales" was the comic exception — a festival wildcard that regaled audiences with its violent wit.

"When something is too solemn, something fishy is happening," said Szifron, who had festivalgoers laughing at a press conference, where Almodovar sat in the front row. "Why can't comedy be quite a serious matter at the same time?"

Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film for a North American release ahead of its premiere Saturday. Szifron said he identified strongly with his famous producer's exaggerated sense of humor. "This film could have been called 'People on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,' he said, alluding to Almodovar's beloved farce "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown."

— Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer, http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

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