Thursday, November 7, 2013

Big Bad Wolves: Push it to the Limit

The Israeli thriller, Big Bad Wolves, really pushes the bar. Not in terms of on screen violence, but in regards to taking a huge leap in the balance of humour and horror, and in my opinion they landed it. This movie isn't for everyone, but the more audiences it connects with the greater its accomplishment will become. Living in the nauseating era of political correctness I'd like to see Hollywood try to recycle this delicious dark nugget with Will Smith.

The plot involves a suspected child murderer, a ruthless cop, who plays by his own rules and an unsettling father of one of the murdered girls. Our allegiance is bounced off each one of these characters as the plot unfolds. The casting of the suspected child murderer is excellent as we feel both empathy and apathy for him at various times by his face alone. The audience is genuinely in a state of conflict in their attempt to figure out if he committed these heinous acts or not.

Following some humorous and coincidental circumstances, the three men end up in a basement in the middle of nowhere within an Arab region. An interrogation pursues for the majority of the movies with plot twists and turns Nostradamus couldn't predict. Apart from the flawless plot, which constantly keeps you on your toes, the real achievement lies in directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado's orchestration of the film's audience. Essentially, this is a movie about a suspected sadistic child rapist and murderer and the torture and intimidation carried out on him. So why do we laugh? The subject matter contains the most depraved and horrifying acts in society, yet at certain moments we have a good old laugh. 

An example of this awkward transcendence between shock and laughter comes in a scene where the father describes to the suspected killer, the disgusting, graphic details of the torture taken out on his deceased girl. His little tale is disrupted by humorous back and forth banter between himself and the cop. The audience is snapped directly out from disgust to a chuckle, albeit at times a nervous chuckle, possibly one of guilt. 

Another example arises during an intense torture scene. The suspect is about to have his toenail ripped off with a pair of pliers, musical score is to the max, viewers on the edge of their seats squirming when suddenly the phone rings. It's the father's mother berating him with maternal questions. We let out a sigh of relief, but Big Bad Wolves means business. It does not shy away from the violence, it simply uses comedy to prolong it. 

There is Jewish humour sprawled all over this flick, specifically between family. Sort of like if Eli Roth made an episode of Seinfeld or if Wes Craven and Woody Allen had a baby. It also contains subtle, but very affective political and religious satire between Jews and Muslims in Israel. There are similarities between Big Bad Wolves and Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece Memories of Murder (2003) in terms of deploying unpretentious social commentary within the story and the fusion of humour with serious subject matter.

Big Bad Wolves is possibly the year's best movie and without a doubt it's most daring in terms of theme and content. It aspires to the true originality of storytelling that Hollywood once delivered during the movie brat era of the 1970s, unapologetic, unafraid and knocking down the doors of political correctness. It would appear that the torch has been passed.

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