Aaron’s nervous wranglings with scriptural doctrine at local prayer meetings suggest a man ill at ease with himself, while back at the shop Aaron teaches Ezri his trade, lets him sleep in the back room, invites him for meals with his wife and kids and gradually becomes closer to him, much to the dismay of his peers who suggest that he should have nothing to do with the outsider and seem to suspect what we know: that Aaron and Ezri are in a sexual relationship.
Tabakman’s debut film is a grind at first. Why are we observing these men in this dull shop in this oppressive corner of Jerusalem? What, to be frank, is going on? But as the risk builds, ‘Eyes Wide Open’ becomes a gripping tale of a man fighting with himself, his community and religion. Tabakman is excellent at capturing both the increasing claustrophobia of the situation and Aaron’s apparent obliviousness (the oblivion of love?) to what’s going on around him, not least with a brilliant shot that captures in the window of a minibus the reflection of a crowd outside Aaron’s shop.
Slow and often silent, it’s an extraordinarily disciplined film (the photography alone is impressively careful and controlled) that respects, if not honours, the milieu of its story by accepting that liberation has bounds and that leaving it all behind – breaking free – is the stuff of movies, not life.
Cast and crew