love in the face of the Israeli / Palestine conflict.
It was somewhat inevitable that at some point noted indie writer and director Eytan Fox would comment on troubling times, close to home. Thankfully in doing so he does not disappoint, as this multi-layered work is testament to.
For returning to civilian life after his final tour of checkpoint duty, ex soldier Noam is soon to greet Ashraf; a Palestinian man captivated by the one he saw on border patrol and who now turns up on Noam's doorstep thanks to a lost ID card. Well aware of the social and political implications of their friendship, the two nevertheless become lovers in no time at all, prompting Noam to introduce Ashraf to his liberal minded flatmates and inparticular politically active war opponent Lulu and openly gay café manager Yali, a place where Ashraf is to find work under a Hebrew name, so as to mask his true identity. And all is well within their trouble free life, until the call of his sister's wedding prompts Ashraf to return home and a family reunion destined to set in motion a shocking chain of events.
Set amidst the endemic tensions of the Israeli / Palestine conflict, this strikingly poignant feature lulls you into a false sense of security by depicting what for the main part is a tender love story, set against the backdrop of war. Only just when you start to feel at ease, Fox pulls the romantic carpet from out below your feet to deliver a heart-rending reality check in the final reel. That Yousef 'Joe' Sweid as Ashraf and Yossi & Jagger star Ohad Knoller as Noam are splendid in their contrasting roles, almost goes without say, in a work that whilst ingrained with a plea for peace and compassion, equally plays heavily on a key moment borrowed from Martin Sherman's Bent.
Well acted and staged throughout, Fox alongside co-writer Gal Uchovsky have seemingly gone out their way to up the stakes by showcasing the seemingly forbidden relationship between an Israeli and a Palestinian in terms of a homosexual bond. Yet this is not a two man show, given Fox is more than happy to let the spotlight fall on Yali's intense friendship with his macho boyfriend Golan and Lulu's turbulent relationship with the press, in the form of the Israeli editor of Time Out magazine. That the central characters want to rave against the occupation is all but clear and yet in fiction, as in real life, events have a way of hitting home with major consequences. For this deeply moving work is more than just a gay love story, having burst its romantic bubble to showcase the fragile hope for peace in lands that as we are all only too well aware, are to this day overflowing with the blood of retaliatory warfare. For this is gay cinema with an emotional voice and a heartfelt message that still needs to be heard. Highly recommended.