Shay Kanot’s atmospheric made-for-TV movie, “Wolves’ Moon” could almost be renamed “Brokeneck Mountain.” A couple of Israeli cowboys bond deeply — not through desire but due to guilt over a car crash that left one paralyzed. Death in myriad forms stalks the film’s frame-lines, as sharpshooting hero stakes out dead calves to lure marauding wolves into his gun sights. Ironically, this laconic Israeli Western comes closer to dealing with the nation’s ongoing political tension than does much Israeli cinema nowadays. Nevertheless, distrib prospects for this genre anomaly appear iffy.
Ruggedly handsome, markedly heterosexual Guy (Amos Gitai regular Liron Levo) raises cattle with his mother (Maya Engler), his younger brother (Eli Altonio) and best friend Yoav (Rodie Kosolovsky), riding herd, corralling steers and camping out in an old school bus. One night, driving home after a few beers, Guy swerves, forcing an oncoming car driven by Yoav off the road and down the hillside.
After spending a year in prison on a DWI charge, Guy returns home consumed with guilt. Not only is he responsible for Yoav becoming a paraplegic, but he was sleeping with Yoav’s girlfriend Netta (Ilana Berkovitch) just before the accident, and Yoav is still unaware she dumped him for Guy.
Guy’s mother (Maya Engler) cannot forgive him, but Yoav will if Guy will do him one small favor: Kill him.
The bulk of the picture finds Guy trying to resolve his moral dilemmas, morosely riding the range and staring into the eyes of marauding predators. Not quite as splendiferous as the Wyoming (via Alberta) backdrops of Ang Lee’s tale of anguished buddyhood, the Golem Heights, transformed by moonlight and haunted by wolves, projects its own loopy mythos.
Tech credits are fine, particularly Ofer Harari’s lucid night cinematography and Yonatan Bar Giora’s minimalist yet effective sound design.