Big Bad Wolves - DVD Review

'Strikes a balance between razor-sharp threat and a tapestry of the blackly and the ludicrously comedic'.

It seems fair to say that Big Bad Wolves has received considerably more international attention than most Israeli films thanks in no small part to Quentin Tarantino, the acclaimed filmmaker having lauded the second feature from co-writers and directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado as the best film of 2013.

It's also not particularly difficult to work out why Keshales' and Papushado's film appealed to Tarantino, with Big Bad Wolves featuring several Tarantino-esque elements in both story and execution. There's even a direct nod to QT, with his signature trunk shot cropping up at one point. Thankfully, the Tarantino association isn't just apparent on the surface, because Big Bad Wolves as both a crime thriller and character-driven narrative is consistently really rather good. From the opening sequence - the most tense and ominous game of hide-and-seek you're ever likely to experience - it's clear that the duo have the filmmaking know-how to craft their film into an absorbing and gripping piece of cinema.

The script matches the directorial dexterity on show, the pair skilfully striking a balance between razor-sharp threat and a tapestry of the blackly and the ludicrously comedic. It's an equilibrium that almost goes without saying could all too easily shift too far towards one extreme and send the whole film crashing down; Keshales and Papushado keep their nerve throughout however, never afraid to shift swiftly between the painful and the painfully funny with a refreshingly high level of success.

Despite the writer-director duo's primary aim to make you both laugh and recoil at their film in equal measure, they also craft an underlying theme of paternal relationships. Each of the central three embroiled in the film's sordid murder mystery - grieving military veteran Gidi (Tzahi Grad), discredited policeman Miki (Lior Ashkenazi) and schoolteacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) - is in their own way a failure as a father. It's a theme augmented further when Gidi's father Yoram (Doval'e Glickman) unexpectedly enters the narrative. Initially offering something of an outsider's perspective on what his son has become involved in, Yoram himself soon becomes an extra participant alarmingly quickly and with very little dilemma, fitting into Big Bad Wolves' larger sense of warped justice and morality. But, though Keshales and Papushado create a corrupt world for their film to play out in, it's to the filmmakers' credit that they never make its machinations and outcomes seem glamorous or even pleasant.

Whilst the central premise Big Bad Wolves is based around may not be the most original, the writing and direction from Keshales and Papushado - alongside consistently solid performances from Grad, Ashkenazi, and Keinan - make that largely forgivable. Only occasionally will you wish that you had a little more substance to go on, such as the undisclosed reasons behind Dror being a suspect for the murders at the start of the story. Taken as a whole, however, Big Bad Wolves is undeniably, engrossingly successful, leaving you dangling on its finely woven thread until the very last moment.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.


  1. Great review. Like you I thought it was a really excellent story with some unexpected moments and some tense situations. All quite believably brought to the screen.

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading it, Nostra. I agree, even though there were some pretty far-fetched elements to the story, the film maintained a pleasing authenticity throughout. One I'd like to watch again soon.