Michael Hayward's Blog

VIFF 2020: "Tales of the Lockdown"

Michael Hayward

Some may remember the Oscar-nominated film Wild Tales (2014; trailer here), a delightfully dark omnibus movie from Argentina that was actually six short films with a common theme of violence and vengeance. Tales of the Lockdown is very much in that mold, though with a significantly lighter touch.

Each of the tales in Tales from the Lockdown is directed by a different Spanish director. As near as I can make out, these five small films were originally produced and released this past summer as a mini-series on Amazon Prime Video. Whatever their provenance, it was fun to get caught up in these free-ranging short stories, several of them slightly macabre, all of which featured characters who were, for the most part, restricted to their homes or apartments due to the coronavirus (an additional bonus: their stories helped me to take my mind off the fact that my own VIFF 2020 experience has been similarly constrained).

The first tale features a reclusive older man living in a spacious apartment in Madrid, who receives an unexpected visitor: a younger woman (in face mask) has come to introduce herself, bearing two bottles of his favourite beer. She's been observing him each evening, balcony to balcony across the street, during the nightly salute to health care workers, and she has a hunch that they're suited to each other. Another tale features a veteran hit man who is attempting to mentor (via Zoom) a younger man, who is eager to start a lucrative new career.

My favourite tale was the final one, perhaps the darkest of the bunch. A landowner (played by Luis Tosar) faces financial ruin thanks to a COVID-related rent strike in one of his buildings. He's in despair—until his wife (played by Chilean actress Maria Luisa Mayol) lays into him with one of the most galvanizing motivational speeches ever. Despite his new-found determination, however, events soon take a decidedly grim (but hilarious) turn.

Tales of the Lockdown is available for streaming through the VIFF Connect app until October 7th. A trailer for the film can be viewed here. Visit the VIFF website for more information on VIFF 2020.



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