Eyes Wide Open review

Posted on 18 May 2010
By Toni Garden
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The tale of forbidden love has been exhausted and revisited time and time again for the silver screen.

Taboo subjects tend to orbit the same storylines and often circle back to Homophobia being presented as the main challenge for the protagonists in the narrative.

But Eyes Wide Open features more than just a growling pack of homophobic Torah bashers forming their ‘moral guards’ and outing the couple in question.

Director Haim Tabakman has shown the turmoil that the question of sexuality can create not just from those pointing the finger but from those asking the question as well.

Many critics have compared this to Ang Lee’s Broke Back Mountain; the married guy and the handsome young buck working alone together, ultimately falling for one another and leading to sorrow and upheaval as they realise it can never be.

And the similarities are there but the added aspect of faith sets this story apart and credit must be given for its controversial subject and on a level that has not been seen from an Israeli film maker.

Aaron (Zohar Strauss) the local butcher in an uber-orthodox Jerusalem suburb is content with his wife and four children, praying and arguing in the synagogue and taking over his recently deceased fathers shop, Aaron leads a quiet life according to the rules of faith which seem not to be constraining and encourage the enjoyment of life.

It is not until the arrival of young stranger, Ezri (Ran Danker) that Aaron learns the true nature of his religious duty and his eyes are opened to his faith.

This is a very personal story beautifully told and executed by Haim Tabakman who uses slow and intrusive shots that seek to out the preying eyes of the synagogue and get right up in everyone’s judgmental faces.

A bold step for both of the actors who are commended for being unafraid to be filmed without unnecessary blab and letting the scene play out with a gesture.

Ninety minutes fly by and before you know it a climactic ending hits you in the heart and jerks you into a tearful ending of redemption and tragedy.

Now showing at FACT