Einayim pkukhot | עיניים פקוחות | Eyes Wide Open
DIRECTOR: Haim Tabakman | WRITER: Merav Doster | CAST: Zohar Shtrauss, Ran Danker, Tinkerbell, Tzahi Grad, Isaac Sharry, Avi Grayinik | Israel
Eyes Wide Open is remarkably restrained and sensitive given its subject matter’s potential for melodramatic excess and polemics of one sort or the other. Certainly the bare outline of the plot is pure cliché: into the settled life of a reserved, even melancholic, middle-aged family man walks an alluring young number who not only likes him, but really likes him, unsettling what had been settled and making him feel really alive for the first time since, well, ever. The twist here being that the middle-aged man, Aaron (Zohar Shtrauss), is an ultra-Orthodox butcher in Jerusalem’s Old City and the alluring young number who walks into his life is the sensitive and vaguely lost and in need of rescue young yeshiva student Ezri (the alluring young Ran Danker). Tightly knit religious communities being what they are, this kind of relationship does not go unnoticed and is definitely not welcome. I’m not going to make any big claims for the movie, but even small movies when done with this kind of sympathy are worthy of praise. There are some misjudgments (some too obvious symbolism, mostly, and the build up at the beginning of the film could have used more tension) and there are some technical issues that betray that this was Tabakman’s debut feature (I often found it difficult to figure out spatial relationships from the way the film was shot and edited). The acting, like the directing, is restrained and quietly effective.