The subject of gay Orthodox Jews isn't new to film, but it's typically the stuff of documentaries. So Haim Tabakman's feature directorial debut Eyes Wide Open deserves not just political points but artistic ones as well: Overused adjectives such as patient and understated are perfectly justified here. This simple story of devout family man and Jerusalem butcher Aaron (Zohar Strauss), who falls from grace via a love affair with hired hand Ezri (Ran Danker), abstains from all forms of shouting, dramatic excess, or third-act eruptions of tragic violence.
There are a few missteps: Aaron's profession means too many symbolic shots of meat being cut, and Aaron and Ezri's exile from the community is too neatly paralleled by a straight couple's similar shunning. Mostly, though, it wins with excellent performances: Strauss never overplays his character's internal tension, nor does Danker camp it up with his youthful virility.
Cinematographer Axel Schneppat frames the film gorgeously, and Tabakman knows where the occasional showy effect can be inserted for emphasis. Not groundbreaking but definitely a cut above.