Eyes Wide Open

This 2009 film from director Haim Tabakman is an interesting exploration of a gay relationship in an Orthodox Jewish community in Israel.  The local butcher Aaron takes in a young man as his apprentice.  He is attracted to Ezri, despite being married and the father of four.  As the film develops, Aaron finds himself falling in love with his apprentice and the two men eventually act on this love.

Ezri is the outsider. He moves into the community but rumours follow him.  Local ‘righteous’ people warn Aaron about the young man and suggest he is cast out.  The Orthodox community here prefers to be closed and is suspicious of outsiders.  Aaron’s wife can see the effect the stranger has on her husband and, consequently, on their marriage.  Everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to help the butcher because, after all, his family have been the butchers for generations.  Aaron ignores the advice and, instead, encourages Ezri in his studies and in his drawing

Love is where it falls.  The two men kiss, then develop a sexual relationship which keeps Aaron away from home for longer and longer.  Despite threats to boycott his business, Aaron continues to defend and protect Ezri until, one day, an attack on the younger man leads to a big decision about their future.


The film explores issues of faith, loyalty, acceptance and obedience.  Belonging to a community comes as a cost; there is a limit to the freedom allowed to any individual.  Behaviour and sexuality need to be within the community’s boundaries or you will be an outcast.  The film raises these questions but does not judge any character’s actions too harshly.


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