a film by Haim Tabakman
2009 | 91 mins | Israel
›› Eyes Wide Open - Einaym Pkuhot
a deeply moving testament to a test of faith.
Eyes Wide Open by Haim Tabakman For those who crave a gay love story with an emotionally realistic heartbeat, then look no further than this intensely poignant directorial debut by Haim Tabakman.

And it all revolves around dedicated family man Aaron Fleischman. An Orthodox Jew and pillar of the local synagogue, he's also a man in urgent need of help in the family run kosher butchery, following the death of his father. Yet in taking in Yeshiva student Ezri, it isn't long before Ezri's seductive good looks and Aaron's suppressed homosexuality see the two men get to know each other in ways that go beyond the nature of their master / apprentice bond, leaving Aaron returning home with little romantic interest, let alone sexual desire for his increasingly suspicious wife. Problem is, she's not the only one who suspects the cause of her husband's guilt, pain and pleasure. Only what will be the price paid for an affair that strikes at the very heart of their faith?

Eyes Wide Open by Haim Tabakman With the obvious exception of the engrossing documentary Trembling Before G-d, few works have got under the skin to reveal exactly what it is like to be gay within a deeply religious Jewish community, one where everybody knows your name, background and business. Yet what makes this film of note, is that it does so without preaching at you, preferring instead to showcase a compelling love story that is as much a restrained insight into the rituals central to Judaism, as it is a depiction of Aaron's world unravelling around him, as the true nature of his sexual orientation becomes apparent to one and all.

To that end, Zohar Strauss as Aaron and Israeli heartthrob Ran Danker as Ezri say as much by way of eye movements and periods of silence, as they do with passionate embraces and words. That their love is an affront to those around them, goes without saying. Yet interestingly, it is here that screenwriter Merav Doster injects a critical subplot, having Aaron rebuke a women over her love for a man outside the promised suitor chosen by her father, all the while knowing that he himself is guilty of soiling the purity of the Mafia-like enforcers of the faith, he represents. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone - indeed.

Laced with a plethora of emotions, let alone enough pathos to more than fill a multiplex, Tabakman has crafted a beautifully acted and remarkably thoughtful work, one that signals that being gay and an Orthodox Jew if not an oxymoron, is certainly a test of faith when face to face with the succulent temptation of the forbidden fruit of homosexual love. Deeply moving, to say the least.

Gay Visibility - covert / overt. 
Nudity - surprisingly, yes. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
UK General Release: 14.May.2010.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 20.September.2010 / UK.
screened as part of the 24th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, 2010.
starring: Zohar Strauss, Ran Danker, Tzahi Grad, Tinkerbell, Isaac Sharry,
Avi Grainik, Eva Zrihen-Attali, Haim Zanati, Mati Atlas and Iftach Ofir.
Copyright 2010 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #279
›› previous page | back to top | print me ‹‹
click for gay celluloid - home