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Michael Mayer’s
Out in the Dark

Written by Michael Mayer & Yael Sharer.

Starring: Nicholas Jacob, Michael Aloni, Jameel Khouri.

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 power.

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 in love.

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 subtitles.

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.







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