Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****
Eyes Wide Open (Eynaim Pekukhot) made its New York debut early this year, as part of the 19th New York Jewish Film Festival, which was quickly followed by a limited theatrical release. This is the first full-length, narrative film from director Haim Tabakman, in which, as a co-writer, he worked with producer Rafael Katz, their “French connection” David Barrot and the film's original screenwriter Merav Doster. Together they’ve come up with a doozy of a movie about Israeli fundamentalist thinking and behaving.
An ugly film to watch (the settings -- workplace, apartment and "shul" -- could hardly be more drab and unappealing), Eyes Wide Open takes place in Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, in and around a butcher shop in which one of its leading characters, Aaron, labors and which, due to the recent death of his father, he now owns. Into Aaron's life one day comes the transient Ezri, a young man whom Aaron hires to help in the shop. (The only other major character in the film is Rivka, Aaron's wife.) Ezri is gay -- we learn this fact fairly quickly -- and Aaron soon finds himself attracted to the young man.