Quentin Tarantino has spent the past decade delighting American audiences with the classic revenge story. With his set-up, he peppers in bursts of surprising humor and an equal amount of over-the-top violence. So it only seems fitting that Tarantino would declare BIG BAD WOLVES one of the best movies of 2013. While most of Quentin’s movies persuade us to revere our anti-hero on their path of vengeance, BIG BAD WOLVES never allows us to cheer on any of the sociopaths and gives us something rarely seen, a mild anti-revenge theme.
Dror (Keinan) is an apprehensive school teacher suspected of sexually assaulting and murdering a young girl. While he seems harmless and innocent, a persistent cop by the name of Micki (Ashekenzi) believes otherwise. He’s actually been demoted recently because he kidnapped Dror and attempted to beat a confession out of him. His out of order escapades landed him on the Internet with the suspected pedophile beating going viral. It makes the Israeli police look like a farce in the name of justice.
Gidi (Grad) is the father of the most recent victim. While we’re never told why he suspects Dror, his intentions are definitely clear as he has a realtor check out prospective homes in the Israeli countryside. His two prerequisites are seclusion and a basement so deep in the Earth that a scream cannot be heard deep in its darkest corners. These three men will create a scenario that’s not only dehumanizing, but also moralistically questionable.
Revenge does feel good…or so we’re told. It only makes sense that not all tales of revenge end with the hero or heroine fulfilling their thirst for blood and squaring away their foes. BIG BAD WOLVES has no heroes. Dror is obviously a lonely man who justifies his actions through his bitter ex-wife. Gidi feels that torture will finally put to rest some of his inner demons of self-blame, but instead uncovers more internal horrors as he takes a sadistic glee in the torturing of Dror. As for Micki, his bitter pill to swallow doesn’t come until the final seconds. BIG BAD WOLVES is so engaging that by the end we’re only left with the question: Was revenge worth it?
Grad is the centerpiece for the acting trio in this movie. On the surface, he’s a vengeful, sociopathic father, but on the inside he lets his true sorrow bubble to the surface when he’s not in the basement cracking jokes in between cracking bones. He was so good; I was surprised that his Internet Movie Database page only listed a light 36 acting credits with most of them coming from short lived TV series. The pace created by our two directors is fantastic. The near two hour running time melts away. While this is an unflinching and brutal movie, our directing duo gives us a very light on blood torture scenario that’s never short of grimace worthy moments.
BIG BAD WOLVES is definitely one of the best foreign films I’ve seen in years. While it has everything we’ve known to love in a movie involving vengeance, it gives us the squirt of realism that reminds us you can’t fight fire with fire…or an eye for an eye will make the world go blind…or some other inspirational quote from people with better understandings of humanism than me. As an American film viewer, it’s good to see that filmmakers across the world don’t mind taking moral high grounds in violent dramas. It’s also nice to see we’re not the only ones in the world with a sick sense of humor.
BIG BAD WOLVES BLU RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:40:1) The presentation is gorgeous. Everything from the rusty old basement to the small suburban alleyways come out beautifully.
Audio: (Hebrew 5.1 DTS-HDMA) Subtitles are in English, French and Spanish. Sure you could watch the dubbed over versions, but you’ll really miss out on Grad’s fantastic deliveries. Everything was fine except for some of the music, which is cranked.
Making of Big Bad Wolves(16:17): This has the elements of every behind the scenes feature, but it’s interesting to hear the vantage point of our actors and directors in Israel. In such a small country, Keinan is worried about the potential backlash for his role and of course we learn more about these unknown (at least to American audiences) actors and who they are in Israeli pop culture.