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Eyes Wide Open -- Film Review

5:36 PM PDT 10/14/2010 by Ray Bennett

The Bottom Line

The film is too slow-paced and insular for general audiences, but it should prosper with gay and Jewish audiences that will respond to its sober examination of beliefs.

The film is too slow-paced and insular for general audiences, but it should prosper with gay and Jewish audiences that will respond to its sober examination of beliefs.

The film is too slow-paced and insular for general audiences, but it should prosper with gay and Jewish audiences that will respond to its sober examination of beliefs.

Un Certain Regard

CANNES -- First-time director Haim Tabakman's Un Certain Regard entry "Eyes Wide Open" tells of the trouble that befalls a man who is married with children when he outrages his severely orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem by falling in love with a young male student.

Produced by Pimpa Film Prods. and Riva Filmproduktion, the film is too slow-paced and insular for general audiences, but it should prosper with gay and Jewish audiences that will respond to its sober examination of beliefs so entrenched that they prompt punitive measures against once esteemed members.

Zohar Strauss plays Aaron, a young and apparently happy family man whose true nature emerges only when he meets Ezri (Ran Danker), who stumbles into his thriving butcher's shop to escape the rain.

Aaron's abrupt offer of a job and a place to stay seems prompted by a wish to test his own faith but the student's proximity leads to greater intimacy that begins to spark gossip. Soon the pair runs afoul of the community's "purity police," who are already harassing a young woman who doesn't wish to marry a man of her father's choice.

The observational detail is impressive and the two men's growing affection is well-drawn but Takerman's depiction of the conventions and strictures of religion and the impulses of two closeted gay men are too understated to achieve universality.