“Eyes Wide Open” (+)
For several weeks the selection of films has been very meager, but the drought appears to have ended.
While waiting to enter the theater, I asked a few people leaving an earlier show what they thought of the film. The men and women I approached were middle-aged and, I’m guessing, some were straight and some were gay. They responded, “excellent,” “very good,” “touching,” and “sensitive.” One woman said, “I loved it, and I’m Roman Catholic.”
The film takes place in Jerusalem in an old section of the city known as Mea Shearim — where extremely pious Jews live (They used to throw stones at cars that entered the area on the Sabbath.) The story is of a butcher, Aaron (Zohar Strauss), his wife Rivka (Tinkerbel), and a young man, Ezri (Ran Danker).
One rainy day Ezri, a stranger in town, enters Aaron’s store to make a phone call. Aaron, who is attracted to the young man, offers him a job in the butcher shop. A sexual relationship develops slowly between the two men while Aaron continues his intimacy with Rivka, the mother of his four children. The community becomes suspicious of the two men, and some yeshiva students in the area subject both Aaron and Ezri to public denunciation and physical assault. How the situation is resolved is enthralling. The film deserves the comments made to me by those I met at Cinema Village.
The gay sex scenes are tepid, more symbolic than erotic. Those interested in viewing a lifestyle they never knew — that of the pious gay — while the acceptance of homosexuality is an issue around the world, will be enlightened.
Henry Stern said: “There is incredible sadness in the seduction of a family man by a handsome itinerant. They pray daily in the yeshiva, but they follow their impulses in the bedroom. Ezri should go to the city where he can find brothers and live in peace. A tightly-knit theocratic neighborhood is no place for a gay man, but in a free country like Israel, he can find places where he can be accepted, serve in the army, and even be elected to the Knesset (as did Uzi Even, a chemistry professor, in 2002). Jew, gay, both or neither, you will learn something if you see this film.”
Unrated. 90 minutes. Hebrew/Yiddish (with English subtitles). At Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. For screening times, call 212-924-3363., For the box office, call 212-924-3364.
This film is a tour de force — not because of exceptional performances by the actors, but rather the outstanding directing of Adam Green (who also wrote the script). The script gave Green a limited area within which to work, and he carried it off superbly.
Three friends who appear to be in their 20s or early 30s — Parker (Emma Bell), Joe (Shawn Ashmore), and Dan (Kevin Zegers) — go skiing for a weekend at a New England resort. When the slope is about to close due to inclement weather, they convince the chair-lift operator to allow them to take one more ride. He agrees, and the three begin their ascent up the mountain.
On the way up the slope, the lift stops running. The groundskeeper has changed, and not knowing the three are on the lift, the new attendant has turned off the power. Now the tour de force. The director was able to captivate the audience while the three young people are, in effect, held prisoner one hundred feet above the ground while a wolf pack below waits for them to fall.
Apparently, this is not a film for everyone. At the 3:30 p.m. show that I attended two days after the movie opened, there were only six people in the audience. However, I would recommend this picture to you. I was riveted to the screen as these three foolish people suffered the consequences of their behavior.
Rated R. 134 minutes. Now screening at, among other places, AMC Lowes (890 Broadway, at 13th St.). Call 212-260-8173.
Volume 22, Number 40
The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan
February 12 - 18, 2010
Support our print edition advertisers!