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BIG BAD WOLVES (review)

Big-Bad-Wolves-poster-386x550BIG BAD WOLVES
Written and Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Starring Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad and Doval’e Glickman 

Have you ever seen a film that, immediately after the credits roll, makes you feel like you just need to go home and take a long shower? Well, if not, you will certainly know this feeling after seeing the Israeli film, BIG BAD WOLVES. It is Quentin Tarantino’s favourite film of 2013, so you know it has to be pretty disturbing.

BIG BAD WOLVES follows a school teacher, Dror (Rotem Keinan), who is suspected of raping and killing a few young girls. Recently disgraced and suspended police detective, Miki (Lior Ashkenazi), though without definitive proof, is sure that Dror is responsible for the deaths. Likewise, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), whose daughter was one of the girls killed, is also, without proof, sure that Dror killed his daughter. Both Miki and Gidi, unknowing of each others existence, decide to take things into their own hands. The two men try to kidnap Dror at the exact same moment, which ends in both Dror and Miki chained up in Gidi’s basement. What follows is an intense interrogation, where torture is certainly not out of the question.

Though the film does have a couple of graphic torture scenes, it never becomes too gratuitous. That being said, writer/directors, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado are not afraid to show us a little gore when necessary. They’ve created an extremely tense film that will have the entire audience up in arms over whom to place their sympathies with. On one hand, Gidi’s daughter has been killed so torturing Dror seems somewhat fitting but, on the other hand, we don’t really know whether Dror is guilty or not. The complexities don’t stop there either as Miki too has problems of his won that further complicate the narrative. In weaving this web, Keshales and Papushado keep you guessing right up to the last shot of the film.

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Helping to make BIG BAD WOLVES as successful as it is, the entire cast shines, right down to the young children in the beginning of the film. Despite being a sometimes horrifying thriller, the film is also quite funny. The screenplay has some well-written, witty dialogue (rare in a torture film), and a scene featuring Gidi making a poisonous cake to the tune of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” is priceless. In another scene, while in the midst of torturing his guest, Gidi gets a phone call from his mother, which leads to further hilarity. This perfectly demonstrates the relationship between a Jewish mother and her son, and being Jewish myself, I can vouch that the depiction is spot on.

Do yourself a favor and get out to see BIG BAD WOLVES when it is released theatrically in January. (If you don’t want to take my word for it, at least take Tarantino’s.) Then again, if you miss it, you can catch the inevitable Hollywood remake of this hilarious and horrific Israeli film.

4

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