A movie review of “Wild Tales”: This Argentine film packs six gripping, entertaining stories about distressed people into one delightful package. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.

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With so many movies taking small plots and stretching them to the snapping point, it’s a pleasure to encounter “Wild Tales,” an Argentine film that packs six gripping, entertaining stories into just over two hours. There is more invention, more joy in storytelling, more attitude, more originality and more energy in any 15 minutes of “Wild Tales” than in three-quarters of the movies that get released.

Part of the attraction of the film is its lack of ambition. That’s a strange thing to say, but it’s rare to see such skill and talent employed in the simple but noble task of amusing people. The goal is to grab and divert viewers, to take people to places they don’t expect, and to do it quickly and memorably. In “Wild Tales,” writer-director Damian Szifron does this six times.

In the first segment, a precredits curtain raiser, a woman goes to the airport and gets on an airplane. Nothing strange there. She strikes up a conversation with the man sitting across the aisle … and what follows are a series of coincidences that aren’t, in fact, coincidental.

Movie Review ★★★½  

‘Wild Tales,’ with Dario Grandinetti, Maria Marull, Monica Villa. Written and directed by Damian Szifron. 122 minutes. Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality. Seven Gables.

In the second tale, set in a roadside diner, a meek waitress recognizes a customer as the man who wrecked her life.

The third tale concerns road rage. A man in an old car and a man in a fast new car clash on the highway, and the retaliations escalate with the inevitability of a Roadrunner cartoon. It’s a demented delight.

The fourth tale involves a demolitions expert whose car is towed, really for no reason. This antagonizes him, but you can only push a demolitions expert so far.

The fifth tale easily could have been made into a feature. A young man comes home having accidentally run over a pregnant woman with his car. He is from a wealthy family, and immediately his father and the family lawyer go into crisis mode, trying to figure out how to keep the young man out of jail.

The sixth tale might be the best. At her own wedding, the bride gets indisputable evidence that the groom has been cheating on her. What follows is a kind of revenge tale, but one that’s really astute about relationships and desire.

The movie rarely, if ever, feels mechanical. Instead, you may find yourself marveling at the fertility of an imagination that could allow itself to toss so many vivid characters and stories into one generous package.