Comedy seldom travels well from one culture to another, but to judge from the first episode of this engaging if uneven satire highlighting humanity's more basic instincts, it's clear that young Argentine writer-director Damián Szifron has a knack for latching on to ideas with a humorous dimension that's pretty universal. The opening sketch, about an almost surreally improbable situation—a planeful of passengers is assembled by a single unseen individual bent on revenge—demonstrates not only Szifron's taste in ultrablack humor but his preferred strategy of combining outrageous excess with a perverse but unavoidable logic. Grudges, minor insults and found-out flirtations lead to mayhem and murder on a cataclysmic scale.
The funniest of the six stories is a brilliantly extended riot of absurdly brutal road rage. The most politically biting is a study of concealment and corruption among the morally bankrupt, wealthy and well-connected, reminiscent of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys and Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman. That the lead actress from the latter film also figures in Szifron's tale of a hit-and-run car accident is indicative of the talent he's cast; even the great Argentine actor Ricardo Darin makes an appearance as an explosives expert plagued by a scarily bureaucratic (and all too familiar) parking-tickets department. The first three episodes are undoubtedly the most amusing, but the final three also have interesting things to say about the psychological and moral health of contemporary Argentina—and, of course, much of the rest of the world.