Eyes Wide Open is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love

Powerfully moving and quietly humane, Eyes Wide Open, Haim Tabakman’s, debut feature is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem community.

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Aaron (Zohar Strauss) leads a quiet life. Each day he heads from his tidy apartment where he lives with his four children and his wife Rivka (played by an actress with the unlikely name of Tinkerbell) to his butcher-shop to his synagogue to pray.

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Aaron is a tzaddik, a righteous man, and when Ezri (Ran Danker), a beautiful twenty-something man arrives at his shop in a rainstorm looking for shelter, he gives it. But something more happens as sexual desire develops between the two men. Ezri wants to kiss Aaron, but Aaron tells Ezri that it’s a challenge for them to pray about. Ezri takes Aaron to a spring outside the city, and desire bubbles to the surface between the two men.

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As their gay love is consummated, the love between Aaron and Rivka becomes troubled. And a self-appointed “God-squad” of Jewish thugs warns Aaron that Ezri is a they don’t want in their neighborhood.

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Beautifully insightful and almost delicate in its storytelling, Eyes Wide Open, is a stunningly essential film in the cannon of queer filmmaking. With not an extra word, frame or movement, director Haim Tabakman and screenwriter Merav Doster craft a truly gorgeous and unforgettable film.

Eyes Wide Open is available now on Dekkoo.