Eyes Wide Open (Einaym Pkuhot)
You can just imagine the pitching session for this one: ‘Alright already guys – this one’s special. It’s Brokeback Mountain in a bekishe with extra curly payots on the side.’ Every revolution starts with a single step and Eyes Wide Open is, to the best of my knowledge, the first gay melodrama to be set in the ultra orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. It’s a queer cinema benchmark and, as such, deserves praise and notice, if nothing else.
Introverted butcher and family man Aaron (Zohar Strauss) decides to employ rootless, handsome youth Ezri (Ran Danker). They soon start a passionate affair and Aaron starts to neglect his family and the commitments he has always made to the orthodox community. Intolerance and persecution are soon visited on both men.
Haim Tabakman’s feature debut is a measured and restrained affair, one greatly helped by Merav Doster’s sparse, delicately suggestive screenplay. It’s all very tasteful and anyone looking for loads of un-forskinned raunch will certainly not find it here. That the film is ultimately too clichéd a tale of doomed love and unbending doctrine to be either compelling or memorable is a shame, but maybe it’s enough to admire the thematic bravery and insight inherent within.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Mon 24–Sat 29 May.