Writers/Directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado have crafted a bleak, yet darkly funny revenge tale that doesn’t actually glamorize the urge for revenge, but instead shines a critical light on both masculinity and the morality of vengeance with Big Bad Wolves. From its opening moments, their direction, hand-in-hand with the cinematography by Giora Bejach. brilliantly sets the stage in a manner recalling the teamwork of Chan-wook Park and Chung-hoon Chung on Lady Vengeance and Stoker, or Kim Jee-woon and Mo-gae Lee on I Saw the Devil. And that’s excellent company to be in. The film opens with the latest abduction of a little girl by a serial pedophile murderer after a game of hide-and-seek that plays out like a dream before plunging into a gritty, violent unofficial police interrogation (i.e. torture) of the main suspect. The lead detective, Micki (Lior Ashkenazi), positive that they’ve got the right man – school teacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) – launches into a violent beating in an attempt to get a confession, but he is secretly recorded and the video is subsequently uploaded to YouTube. Not only does this get him kicked off the case and eventually suspended, Dror is set free, and within a day an anonymous tip leads the police to the little girl’s body in the woods, tied to a chair, raped, and beheaded. This sets into motion a cycle of revenge with horrible repercussions for everyone involved. Lior Ashkenazi is charismatic and disturbingly likeable for a police officer willing to take justice into his own hands and murder a suspect based only on his suspicions. The girl’s father, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), is retired military and has his own homicidal tendencies to take into account as he also hunts down Dror to take his vengeance. Gidi and Micki’s uneasy alliance provides a number of laugh-out-loud funny moments before shifting into gut-wrenching scenes of torture and abuse. It’s no wonder that Tarantino called this the best film of the year. The juxtaposition of humor and horror in this film is masterful, creating a bizarre sense of absurdity that belies the serious questions about responsibility and masculinity the film engages. And this is really all about masculine power, as the only roles women play in this film are as ball-busting ex-wives or overzealous mothers. And then there are the little girls who are simply victims. Because of this, we are locked almost entirely into a world of masculine power fantasies played out as torture-porn revenge where the audience is left in the dark about whether or not Dror is guilty. If he’s guilty, the film is in danger of tipping over into an unnerving encouragement of vigilantism, but if he’s innocent, then the Big Bad Wolves of the title are the men seeking their own idea of justice by any means necessary. The beauty of the film is that it keeps us guessing right up until the final moments. And even when everything is said and done, the film manages to veer away from simplistic moralizing and create a narrative where every single act of violence and revenge creates a nightmarish chain-reaction of horror from which there is no return. So ultimately, the urge for revenge is defined here as a purely masculine enterprise that only leads to tragedy. Perhaps the most chilling moment, however, isn’t with the damaged psyches of Micki and Gidi, but rears its head when Gidi’s father Yoram – played with a stunning dichotomy of innocence and brutality by Doval’e Glickman – volunteers to put his army training, and a blowtorch, to use in prompting a confession from Dror. When he lovingly reminisces about the smell of burning flesh, it’s no question that there is at least one monster in the room, despite the façade of his normal, everyday life. While all of this is gripping and at times nauseating to watch, the film is broken up by extremely lighthearted moments that almost seem more at home in another film. That’s really what makes this movie work for me. If it were unrelenting torture and darkness, it would get tired pretty quickly (see Hostel, for example). But with the hint of light, the shadows become deeper. We care more about the characters, as they’re not just one-dimensional revenge fantasies, but are more fully-realized with motivations and lives that have been wrecked by the kidnapping and murder of a little girl. Fair warning, though. The end of the film is devastating. See larger image Big Bad Wolves [Blu-ray] New From: $5.11 USD In Stock Big Bad Wolves (2013)4.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Top Ten Favorite 2014 Crime Thrillers - Psycho Drive-In January 30, 2015 […] Big Bad Wolves was made and released around the world in 2013, it didn’t get an official American release […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.