Out in the Dark
Written by Michael Mayer & Yael
Starring: Nicholas Jacob, Michael Aloni,
Breaking Glass Pictures
Reviewed by Frank J. Avella
Michael Mayer’s feature debut,
Out in the Dark, examines a slew of Jewish/Muslim
grey areas with a gripping gay love story at its core.
The DVD is a must for Queer cinema fans
as the smaller screen intimacy of the story adds to the
Super hottie Israeli lawyer Roy Schaefer
(super hottie Michael Aloni) hits on timid Palestinian
student Nimr (loveable Nicolas Jacob) in a Tel-Aviv gay
bar. The two begin a tumultuous affair and fall deeply
But the relationship is threatened when
Nimr’s visa is revoked by a bully security chief
(Alon Pudt) who blackmails homosexual Palestinians into
giving him damning information in exchange for not informing
families about their sexuality. Nimr’s brother has
been stockpiling weapons and may be planning a terrorist
act--so there is much to lose. In addition, and most importantly,
any idea that Nimr is gay would bring shame on his family
and seal his fate—as it did with his drag queen
friend, Mustafa (Loai Noufi).
Roy has his own family issues with a
mother who is anything but happy about her son’s
sexuality and a father who appears indifferent.
When Nimr’s secret is revealed,
his once loving mother throws him out, virtually sentencing
him to death. Nimr becomes a fugitive who is despised
in his own hometown and not wanted in Tel-Aviv. He turns
to Roy for help and Roy must make some challenging decisions.
There are no easy answers, explanations
or motivations in this film and Mayer never forces melodrama
on his audience, making the film all the more powerful
and the narrative all the more exciting.
Besides the thriller aspect of the film,
the love story keeps us involved and invested. The prevalent
and pervasive homophobia in the Middle East is presented
in a very honest and heartbreaking manner.
Aloni and Jacob are wonderful—we
instantly feel the passion between these two and, even
when they spar, we know they believe in each other.
The 1:85:1 transfer is sometimes grainy--with
the night shots looking particularly ominous--sometimes
sharp and quite striking. The 5.1 Surround Sound is fine.
The film is in Hebrew and Arabic with removable English
The too-paltry Special Features include
a terrific 10-minute, “Interview with the Cast,”
which has the two leads intelligently discussing their
respective character journeys. This feature could easily
have been expanded to 30-minutes. Three deleted scenes
(6 minutes total) are offered including a sweet scene
where Roy asks Nimr to meet his parents. The trailer and
a photo gallery round out the goodies.
There is currently a bounty of rich
Middle East cinema conveying stories of understanding
and unity. Out in the Dark is a welcome addition
to this oeuvre.