Big Bad Wolves Review
When one usually thinks of a big, bad wolf, they may expect a fairytale story. "Big Bad Wolves," the new Israeli film I watched tonight, contains little girls in trouble, as well as evil men who could be considered "wolves," but the film is about as far from a fairytale as possible. This is a steep thriller of three men with particular agendas, who end up colliding with one another. I was captured by "Big Bad Wolves" pretty much from the beginning. The opening credits scene is truly unbelievable. Its a perfect combination of mood, music, camera-angles, setting and actors. The best part about it is, the film only got better as it went along. Its been quite awhile since a film grabbed me from its beginning, and I am glad this one did.
The opening credits shows us something truly terrible which happened to a little girl. Then we immediately meet Miki (Lior Ashkenazi), a detective for the Israeli Police Department. Seems Miki has a hunch that Eli (Guy Adler), a teacher at a school, is the man responsible for the brutal kidnapping and murder of the little girl in the opening credits. Eli doesn't talk though, so Miki uses tactics which a normal cop would not use, such tactics get Miki suspended from the Department. However, Miki's boss allows him to keep pursuing Eli as a lead. Miki gets Eli cornered and captured, and as Miki is getting ready to interrogate him, he is suddenly knocked unconscious with a shovel.
When Miki comes to, he is tied up with his mouth duct-taped shut by Gidi (Tzahi Grad), the father of the little girl who died. Gidi wants Eli to pay for what he did and allows Miki to be his accomplice during the "interrogation." We quickly learn that Gidi is a revenge-driven monster and will stop at nothing to get the answers he needs from Eli. The rest of the film is this huge stretch in Gidi secluded house, as he tries to find out where Eli has hidden the remains of his daughter.
"Big Bad Wolves" would have been a fairly decent stage play. Except for the first 20-30 minutes, the film takes place in one spot, though I don't know where something this bloody could be done onstage. What kind of thriller doesn't make you cringe, unless its not doing the job right? There are some deeply intense moments in "Big Bad Wolves" that I found nearly unbearable. The film is also undercut by some hard earned, dark humor that I found enticing. The movie is brought to astounding life by a great ensemble of actors, Ashkenazi, Adler, Grad create a twisted, disturbed, yet thrilling mystery that only gets better as it wears along. The film is full of twists and turns that I just did not see coming. Plus, there is style that is hard to beat in this day and age.
I understand that January is usually a crappy time of the year for movies. However, its also the time of year when cooler stuff from overseas finally reaches our shores. "Big Bad Wolves" was released in Israel in 2013, and now finally received major United States distribution this year. I can truly say that it was worth the effort to get this movie to play in my homeland, as it was an experience that will be hard forget. Even as the year pushes forward, this one is going to be caught in my craw for awhile, something I don't mind one bit.
FINAL GRADE: A