BIG BAD WOLVES-Israel-110 Mins. 2013
Directed and Written by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Have you ever watched a film that has so simple and cliché’ a plot that you think that it would be child’s play to describe it to a friend; yet when the time comes you find yourself at a complete loss for words? That’s the dilemma I have with the Israeli produced revenge-torture thriller Big Bad Wolves. If it were an American film it would star Jason Statham as the hero, feature a cardboard villain that any B-movie actor could portray and it would have lots of explosions. Instead, we have a film that uses those same clichés to keep us in doubt right up to and perhaps after, the final frame of the film. Big Bad Wolves is a grim, slow burn of a film infused with just enough jet-black comedy to take our minds off of its dismal subject matter if only for a few seconds.
Seeking answers, the father of a murdered child and the ex-cop seeking vigilante justice kidnap a religious studies teacher who they suspect of being the killer. They only want to know one thing; where are the heads of the little girls that he raped, tortured and murdered? They torture him and he maintains his innocence. That’s when the seed of doubt begins to play into our minds. Is this man guilty of these crimes; or are we gleefully watching the torture of an innocent man? Writer-Directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado masterfully manipulate us through every frame of the film to give us a movie that is both surprising in its use of tired themes and yet brilliant in the way it turns those themes completely on their ear.
None other than Quentin Tarantino himself proclaimed Big Bad Wolves to be the ‘best film of the year’ for 2013. The late Roger Ebert said that Tarantino’s proclamation was a ridiculous one. I believe them to both be correct. Granted, Tarantino does have a tendency to be hyperbolic in his assessments of motion pictures but this time he’s right. Big Bad Wolves may not have been the best film of 2013; it was definitely, however, one of the best.
Lior Ashkenazi also appears in Walk on Water and Late Marriage.
Rotem Keinan also appears in The Exchange and Epilogue.
Tzahi Grad also appears in Eyes Wide Open and Off-White Lies.