Big Bad Wolves – Film Review Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2013

Big Bad Wolves

Big Bad Wolves

October 28, 2013.   For the most part, today’s parents city-proof their kids with the necessary skills to navigate the dangers just outside their front door.  And even with these precautionary life notes in tow, there is still no guarantee that their child will return home at the end of the day. Big Bad Wolves finds itself at the crossroads between a modern day fairy-tale and a modern day nightmare. Poignant with tragic undertones, Directors, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado walk that fine line between eye watering humour and Quentonian torture with uncompromising ease and directorial savvy.

An innocence game of hide-and-seek turns into a parent’s worst nightmare as the daughter of Gidi (Tzahi Grad), goes missing and eventually found dead, sans her head.  Pressure mounts for police to solve a series of missing and murdered young girls.  Lead detective Miki (Lior Ashkenazi), and some rogue cops employs unconventional interrogation methods trying to break the diminutive highschool teacher Dror (Rotem Keinan), suspected of the heinous murder.  Unbeknownst to them, the beating was captured on video and goes viral on YouTube setting in motion a public backlash leaving gregarious Police Chief (Dvir Benedek), no alternative but to oust the now discredited Miki.  News of Dror pedophilia blankets the school and the administration has no alternative but to rescind his teaching duties. Keshales and Papushado painstakingly nurture intricate and memorable characters with a heady mix of humour, hope and torturous aggression.

With Miki, now free from the confines of law, he goes rogue to seek redemption while revenge-minded Gidi is hot on the trail. Gidi’s twisted father is the epitome of evil and depravity employing torture methods that would make Dick Cheney celebrate.  And it’s because of this freewheeling style that Big Bad Wolves is able to chart a convoluted path as it leads our little lamb to slaughter.   A mountain of sympathy for our victim is heavily woven throughout the story line as we witness the slow demise of a possibly innocent man.

Peppered throughout this narrative is a series of memorable comedic turns providing the needed levity to balance out the strong torture sequences in the third act. This beautifully shot film was only surpassed by the lushness of the emotive score composed by Frank IIfman.  To say this film is genre-bending is understating its cinematic range.

Verdict 4.5 out of 5: The sophomore film from  Keshales and Papushado echoes convincingly like a true crime product of Martin Scorsese in the vein of The Departed.  Gripping and dark where it’s warranted with just enough humour to lighten the load.  Witty dialogue runs rampant throughout and the comedic touches showcasing the relationship between a Jewish mother and her son are magical.  Never over playing their secrets Keshales and Papushado save a final twist that makes you rethink everything.

Final Thought: What will a father do to find his daughter ?

Country: Israel Language: Hebrew (English Subtitled) Director(s): Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado. Writer: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado Music Composed by: Frank Ilfman Release Date (Canada): July, 2013 Runtime: 110 minutes Cast: Guy Adler, Lior Ashkenazi, Dvir Benedek, Gur Bentwich, Dov Glickman, Tzahi Grad, Rotem Keinan, Nati Kluger, Kais Nashif, Menashe Noy, Ami Weinberg

Review – John Dash
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