Eyes Wide Open

"Extraordinary"

Eyes Wide Open Review


It's almost impossible to imagine anyone making a gay romance between two orthodox Jews. And yet this film is subtle and sensitive, and full of earthy honesty as it explores a seriously difficult situation.

Aaron (Strauss) is a well-respected orthodox butcher in Jerusalem, with a wife (Tinkerbell) and four young children. But locals start to question him when he hires a young stranger, Ezri (Danker), as his assistant. A gifted sketch artist, Ezri is quite clearly "different", and rumours start swirling. The problem is that Aaron is deeply attracted to Ezri, and finds himself struggling to continue suppressing his sexuality. But tension between them grows and, after their first kiss, Aaron knows life will never be the same.

The filmmakers tell this story with minimal dialog and tiny details that express the relationship in involving ways. Without exploiting the controversial premise, they create an honesty and complexity we rarely see on screen. Every element of this society gets a fair portrayal, from Aaron's quietly suspicious wife to the range of people around them, from understanding to disappointed to violent. And the performances are raw and natural, revealing sharp humour and layers of personality.

We really come to understand how these people live--their commitment to work, study, prayer, family and community--and how this gay relationship is seen as a threat to all of that. As the tension grows both between and around these two men, the characters become even deeper and more engaging, and their interaction sparks with real power.

There's also a real sense of the collision between religion and sexuality in the question of why God created lust. Older people believe lust exists to make us stronger when we resist; younger ones think it's part of who we are as humans. There's also the question of whether sin exists to help us become more righteous when we learn the lessons. And of course the key issue: what good is orthodoxy if you can't actually live?

Yes, this is potent material, but it's beautifully shot and edited to centre on the characters themselves, never becoming preachy, flashy or sentimental. It's a thoughtful exploration of the confusion, pain and, yes, joy that comes from conflict. And it challenges us to think deeply rather than just take someone else's word for it.



Eyes Wide Open

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 2nd September 2009

Distributed by: Regent Releasing

Production compaines: Field Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Haim Tabakman

Producer: David C. Barrot, Rafael Katz

Starring: Lindsay Carr as Debbie, Gary Croome as Mark, Anthony Straeger as Milkman, John Tordoff as Neighbour

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