MiniReview: "Out in the Dark" (film)

Michael Aloni and Nicholas Jacob are one attractive couple facing a host of issues in this Israeli film.

What is it?

An Israeli film, directed by Michael Mayer, released in 2013. 


What is it about?

Nimr, a young Palestinian man studying in Tel Aviv, falls in love with Roy, a Jewish lawyer.


Sounds tricky.

Yes, there are many complications. For one, the Arab fellow lives in Ramallah, and commutes through the security gates every day into Tel Aviv for his classes. His security clearance can be taken away at any moment. Furthermore, his brother is involved with the PLO and is hiding an arms cache in a storage shed. On top of all that, Nimr is not out to his family. Finally, while Roy is out to his family, they’re not exactly thrilled with the “choices” he’s making.


A setup for some drama!

Indeed. And there is drama aplenty in this interesting film. The love story between these two is compelling. They make a charming and unusually attractive couple, and their romance is really moving and honestly portrayed. At times, the film reminded me of a sort of Jewish Brief Encounter, with these two lovers whose meetings are so highly charged because one senses that the clock is always ticking.


So you liked this film? Or loved it, even?

I liked it. It’s a well-made film, unpretentious, unremarkable. My quibble is with the last half-hour or so, as the film turns into a thriller, involving security agents chasing our heroes through the streets. It’s exciting stuff, but run-of-the-mill. I was disappointed that the script didn’t just concentrate on the dilemma of these two young men, which was utterly compelling and provided ample room for drama.


Were there interesting glimpses into gay life in Israel?

Yes. The film paints a picture of a society in which it’s pretty challenging to be gay (Israel, that is—in Palestine it’s impossible). The funny thing is that on the DVD there’s a trailer for a documentary about gay life in Israel that makes it look like an utter paradise. I assume the reality is somewhere between the two.


Are you giving this one any stars (using the Michelin-guide 3-star system)?:

Reluctantly, no. It’s a nice film, worth a look if you get a chance, particularly for its glimpse into gay life in Israel, but ultimately disappointing as it descends into the thriller genre.


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