Big Bad Wolves (2013) DVD


Tagline: Some Men Are Created Evil. Fair point.

Premise: Israeli torture film. A fictional one, fortunately. A squabbling gang of vigilantes capture a man they think has been abusing and murdering children and attempt to torture the truth out of him. Somehow, it is hilarious. 

Delivery: I bought Big Bad Wolves because Quentin Tarantino told me to, in a quote on the DVD. Ok not told, but called it the best film of the year, and I was easily sold. The film itself is so hard to know where to start with reviewing. It's satire, it's drama, it's very funny, it is simultaneously incredibly brutal and very adult; certainly one of the most deserving 18 certificates I've watched all year. I hate using this word, because it is used with feckless abandon (thought I'd Irish up that phrase a bit for some diversity) by reviewers whenever a film touches humorously on a subject that is close to the bone, but Big Bad Wolves is dark. 

The film deals with a particularly grim series of child rape and murder, vigilante justice which springs from those killings, torture, betrayal and grief and belying all common sense, it'll make you laugh while doing so. That being said, the subject matter and approach to said subject matter will exclude a large amount of potential viewers before even putting the film on. This is for the best. For example my old man watches a lot of films, loves a movie night (or day- he's retired), but I wouldn't lend him this, I know he wouldn't enjoy it. My sister, however, probably would if it wasn't subtitled. But there we are.

Big Bad Wolves is well written and superbly acted, particularly Tzahi Grad, who steals the show. One scene in particular is expertly handled, I won't give it away but performed poorly could have come across as in bad taste. However, writers/ directors Aharon Keshales and Nacot Papushado deliver it in such a way that it might be one of my favourite, funniest, most uncomfortable scenes of the year. I had a few technical gripes with the film in places, but they were small and didn't ruin it.

There's a clear theme of comment on the State of Israel throughout Big Bad Wolves, it is surely no accident that the characters, all Jewish, continually refer to the central location (the country home of one character) being a “hell hole surrounded by Arabs”. It also touches on a theme which I noticed in Munich, of the matriarchal Jewish faith, where it's a very male, macho film but the strongest characters are often the women. The ladies may not feature for long, but you know they run things really. It's nice that Big Bad Wolves captured that too.

Bedsit it? Big Bad Wolves would make an interesting, if somewhat depressing, double bill with Prisoners. Or, for that matter, Incendies. It made me laugh, had me gripped, and has a contender for death of the year in the Bedsit Cinema 2018 Awards. 8/10

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