Comedy seldom travels well from one culture to another, but from the first, pre-credits episode of this engaging if uneven satire highlighting humanity's more basic instincts, it's clear the young Argentine writer-director Damián Szifron has a knack for latching on to ideas and characters with a humorous dimension that is pretty universal. The opening sketch, about an almost surreally improbable situation – a planeful of passengers is miraculously assembled by a single unseen individual bent on revenge – demonstrates not only Szifron's taste in ultra-black humour but his preferred strategy of combining outrageous excess with a perverse but unavoidable logic. So, grudges, minor insults, found-out flirtations and the like repeatedly lead to mayhem and murder on a cataclysmic scale.
The funniest of the six stories is probably 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 his compatriot 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 features 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.