US Release Date: 09-27-2013
Directed by: Michael Mayer
- Nicholas Jacob, as
- Nimr Mashrawi
- Michael Aloni, as
- Roy Schaefer
- Jamil Khoury, as
- Nabil Mashrawi
- Alon Pdut, as
- Loai Nofi, as
- Mustafa Na'amne
- Khawlah Hag-Debsy, as
- Hiam Mashrawi
- Maysa Daw, as
- Abir Mashrawi
- Shimon Mimran, as
- Moris Cohen, as
- Shabak 1
- Tal Elimelech, as
- Shabak 2
- Majd Bitar, as
- Alon Oleartchik, as
- Eitan Schaefer
- Chelli Goldenberg as
- Rina Schaefer
Michael Aloni and Nicholas Jacob in Out in the Dark
Patrick and I have had many conversations about gay rights over the years. I am not trying to belittle anything he may have had to overcome because of his sexuality but Out in the Dark shows just how incredibly hard it can be for a homosexual in other parts of the world.
Nimr is a gay Palestinian who lives with his mother, brother and sister. He has to sneak through fences to get to a gay club in Tel Aviv that is run by a gay Palestinian friend, Mustafa, who lives in Tel Aviv. To come out gay in his community would be akin to Nimr committing suicide. On one such trip he meets a Jewish lawyer, Roy, and the two soon fall in love.
Nimr gets a pass to enter Tel Aviv to attend a university class. This allows Nimr and Roy to see each other often. With a plot device that brings to mind The Bubble (2006), Nimr has a brother who is a terrorist. He collects and hides guns in their shed. Nimr does not support his brother’s endeavors, focusing on school and Roy.
Mustafa gets picked up by Israeli security, they demand that he give them information on Palestinian terrorist activity. When he cannot do what they want they drop him off on the Palestinian side. Mustafa is flamboyantly gay and was seen with Israeli agents. Nimr witnesses Mustafa get beaten and then killed by his brother.
With Roy’s help, Nimr tries to legally stay with him in Tel Aviv. In a country with lots of check points and security issues, it seems impossible. To make things even more complicated, the same Israeli agents that questioned Mustafa, find Nimr and want him to give them information as well.
You cannot help but root for Nimr. Here is a man who is truly a victim of circumstances. He cannot come out to his own family as that would surely be disastrous. The man he loves lives in a place where everyone looks at him suspiciously every time he talks. He and Roy get called, “Faggots” by people passing by. Any decision he makes may be seen as an act of betrayal by someone else in his life.
This film portrays gays as unbiased. In one of the few lighter moments, Roy explains to Nimr, “Well, you know a dick's a dick.” Out in the Dark is a political/social love story that focuses more on the romance than the sex. Roy gives Nimr a watch with an inscription that reads, “Love finds its way.” At another point, Nimr tells Roy, “I didn't plan to fall in love with you. All I know is that I want to be with you.”
I found myself caught up in Nimr’s unique situation. Does he go home and live a life in the closet or does he stay in Tel Aviv, put up with the bigotry and betray his family? I was not entirely satisfied with the ending but you will have to see it yourself to decide. And by “you” I mean Patrick, as I look forward to his insight and opinion.
Nicholas Jacob and Michael Aloni in Out in the Dark.
I enjoyed this movie despite the wooden acting by Nicholas Jacob as Nimr. He is so damn cute, though, with such deep soulful eyes, that it's easy to see why he got the part despite his limited dramatic range. Michael Aloni as Roy, is more at ease in front of the cameras but he has the lesser role. For the most part the story focuses on Nimr and the deplorable conditions of his life as a gay man living within such a repressive culture.
I never fully bought the relationship between the two lead characters. They think they are in love but the script doesn't do a very good job of showing us why they love each other. Sure they have hot sex but I didn't see any really strong underlying emotional connection. Nimr gives Roy a chance to rebel against his parents, while Roy represents freedom and the chance at a new life for Nimr. As their big confrontation scene demonstrates, they don't really know each other as individuals. The ending is intentionally ambiguous but I don't think that Roy will be waiting for Nimr at the end of his journey.
I love movies that portray gays as average guys. OK, so maybe these two are a bit more attractive than your average guy but I appreciate the fact that they defy the stereotype of the swishy queen who's a weak victim of homophobia. In fact, in one scene they chase after two other men who called them faggots. Now of course the gay community includes many flamboyant types like Mustafa but it also includes a great number of men that don't act like walking homosexual cliches. Foreign films seem to do a far better job of portraying this innate diversity among gay men than Hollywood ever has.
Clearly Nimr has only one choice and that is to get the hell out of the West Bank. He can never live a full life in that environment and it will only lead to tragedy and innocent blood being shed. Nimr is Out in the Dark but as the movie ends we can only hope that with Roy's help he has found a way towards the light.
Photos © Copyright M7200 Productions (2013)