Published Apr 22, 2014A twisted fairy tale that's as potent a mixture of violent crime saga and pitch-black humour as you're likely to find, it's little wonder that Big Bad Wolves can boast on its cover that it was Quentin Tarantino's favourite film of 2013. It sucks you in slowly, establishing a group of well-rounded characters with great style and energy before setting them loose on each other for a delirious second half that seems to just keep getting better and better as it goes along.
A rash of child murders has left loose cannon police officer Micki (Lior Ashkenazi) with only one prime suspect, the mild-mannered but undeniably creepy bible studies teacher Dror (Rotem Keinan). When Micki is suspended and given the opportunity to operate outside of the law, he's stopped dead in his tracks by Gidi (Tzahi Grad), the father of one of the murdered girls seeking some closure for the crime.
The film is not so much interested in operating as a formulaic procedural that examines the details of the case as it is in creating suspense out of the relationships between the three men, with Micki and Gidi retreating to a basement to torture Dror while he steadfastly maintains his innocence. Things only get more tense and amusing when Gidi's father Yoram (Doval'e Glickman) shows up unexpectedly.
The performances are all finely calibrated throughout, consistently finding the right tone as it shifts from macabre to farce and never losing sight of the reality of the situation. A lot of the credit must also go to writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado for crafting an inventively demented script and then bringing it to screen in a sleek manner that's exhilarating and fun even in its most disturbing moments. Terrible deeds are certainly committed, but there's an underlying humanity throughout that's kept alive with a light touch.
The Israeli production manages to even have a better making-of featurette than those that accompany most Hollywood film DVDs. For anyone who may not be all that familiar with films from the region, it's interesting to learn how Glickman is an actor especially renowned there for his comedy chops. The actors discuss how the directing duo is fond of huddling privately to make decisions, something Keshales and Papushado admit creates a sense of mystery as to who came up with what that they enjoy. It's just a shame that the two say they have no plans to come to America to make films anytime soon, as their ample talents would certainly be welcome there.
(Video Service Corp.)