TADFF 2013: Big Bad Wolves (2013)
When a slew of young girls are discovered murdered, amongst other unspeakable acts, a rogue detective, a grieving parent seeking revenge, and the top suspect are sent careening toward one another. When their paths meet, the events their intersection sets in motion are unbelievably intense, smart, violent, and most surprising of all, hilarious. This is “Big Bad Wolves.” The film that revolves around a chair in a room. But don’t let the simplicity of the setting mislead you. One minute you’re watching the unfolding of a severe plunge into the human psyche, the next you’re realizing that it’s you who has been tortured and dissected for the past two hours. By no means is this a negative thing, never will you experience a thrill-ride as immersive and thorough as this. Delving into our social evolution and its parameters, the strengths and weaknesses of our morals, and the terrifying, infinite probabilities one will enact and undergo for a loved one. “Big Bad Wolves,” all in all, is a prime example of a film that tests you both mentally and physically.
Now, you might be thinking that there is nothing funny about innocent little girls being sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered. Next, you might be pondering what kind of sick psychopath would find comedy in this, let alone interesting enough to make an entire film on the subject. The answer to that last question is Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, but that’s besides the point. This might lead you to combine both thoughts leaving you, more than likely, prompted to say “well…I never!” While I can’t blame you for this reaction, because I would have responded in the same manner had I just been provided with this information, I can take responsibility for it. I might have mislead you earlier. See, “Big Bad Wolves” doesn’t so much poke fun at pedophillia, it just simply uses it as a common base for the characters to cohere around. It’s merely meant to draw the characters together and motivate them. The hilarity stems from it, you know, it’s employed around it, it’s not the subject of the laughs. So by no means rant and rave about this film or its creators negatively. What you should be doing is praising Aharon and Navot for their impressive talent to use comedy in such a deplorable situation tastefully.
If I’m to be honest with you, I’m finding it really difficult to review this film. Not because it was awful or it’s themes despicable. I mean, when Quentin Tarantino says that it’s the best film of the year, what else can one say? How can I argue the truth? What weight does my word have against that of the great, illustrious Quentin Tarantino? None, that’s how much! Of course, as it is with every flick ever released, “Big Bad Wolves” will undoubtedly not be to everyone’s preference. It’s a very provocative, controversial film dealing with delicate, deplorable topics. That being said, if you’re a cinephile, I implore you not to pass up the chance to see this flick. Everything about its execution and structure is beyond phenomenal. The acting is quite possibly the strongest I’ve seen so far this year by an ensemble, the story is captivating and horrifying, yet you can’t look away, and the visuals strike as subtly atmospheric, but at times disgusting and disturbing, so it’s quite the contrast to experience.
If you’re familiar with Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, you’re probably familiar with their debut feature “Rabies.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you check it out. They’ve come a long way, all the way from Israel as a matter of fact, to bring you one of the most inventive, thought-provoking films of the year. So put away any displeasure you might have of viewing a film that’s subtitled and brace yourselves for the onslaught. Keshales and Papushado’s camerawork is absolutely sublime and if there was ever any question regarding their storytelling abilities, they’ve definitely put those criticisms underground. “Rabies” hit some viewers as slightly jumbled and incoherent. So what does this diabolical duo do to silence their critics? They revive one of the oldest forms of storytelling, the fairy tale, with a dark, sociopathic, ingenious twist. “Big Bad Wolves” doesn’t pull any punches or flinch away from the ugly bits, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tolerance level.
I apologize, I just couldn’t leave without giving you the details on “Big Bad Wolves” outstanding ensemble. The film stars Lior Ashkenazi (who you might recognize from “Rabies”) as rogue detective Miki, Tzahi Grad as Gidi, the vengeful father of the latest victim, and Rotem Keinan as Dror, the unfortunate recipient of Gidi and Miki’s uncontrollable rage. Usually I’d tell you which actor outperformed the others and so on, but not this time. As I said previously, this is without question one of the best collective efforts I’ve seen so far this year. The earnestness, confusion, and helplessness each character exudes at the hands of this depressing motivation oozes with authenticity. The believability in each glance, each movement is astounding, as if each portrayer has transcended their role to become entangled in this saddening circumstance. They don’t know why their humanity has fleeted them so quickly, but their soldier on nonetheless. Truly superlative work from the entire cast.
Funny, violent, and honest, “Big Bad Wolves” is as original, entrancing, and creative as they come.
Big Bad Wolves: 9 out of 10.