Sunday 24 March 2013

Out In The Dark (2012) - Michael Mayer

Queer cinema is filled with stories of forbidden love.  Out In The Dark is no different, though its narrative is laced with political intrigue.  Nimr (Nicholas Jacob) is Palestinian; Roy (Michael Aloni) is Israeli.  No matter how strong their love for one another, political tensions threaten to stifle their relationship at every turn - Nimr cannot risk his family knowing the truth, whilst idealist Roy despairs at the hopelessness of the situation.  Their love is doomed from the start, even before the complications of Nimr's terrorist brother cause their lives to fall apart.  We witness the narrative through nervous camerawork that leads us into a world where homosexual men are forced to live life in the shadows.  The title, Out In The Dark, has layers of meaning both literal and metaphorical.

Yet politics merely provide a backdrop to the relationship.  Certainly the setting offers an overbearing feeling of dread, with political tensions woven into key points of the plot, but the plot itself is a predictable tragedy.  Out In The Dark does poignantly highlight the suffering of gay men in the middle east - a subject rarely touched upon in cinema - but its core narrative is simply another outsider drama.  Does queer cinema have no other stories to tell?

At its heart, Out In The Dark is a film about the lengths people will go to for those they love and features an honest and sympathetic portrayal of a gay relationship.  The chemistry between Jacob and Aloni is palpable and immediate, both offering naturalistic performances.  Newcomer Jacob is especially credible in the eye-opening scenes in which Nimr is torn from his family through the shame he has brought them.  It is in these moments of human tragedy that the film most excels.