A gay love story across the Israeli-Palestinian border? This really can't end well…
This one was never going to end well. A Palestinian student, Nimr (Nicholas Jacob) attains a pass that allows him easy access into Israel, but where his family think that he's heading into enemy territory for purely academic reasons, they soon discover an ulterior motive. And that motive takes the form of Tel Aviv's burgeoning gay scene, and more specifically a rugged lawyer in the form of Michael Aloni's Roy.
Unlucky for Nimr, his older brother is a conservative, anti-Israeli militant and uses the family home to harbour a stash of firearms, and they even use the outhouse for the odd spot of torture.
Michael Mayer's worthy family drama of modern mores placed within the context of political and ethnic hatred never manages to feel like anything more than a well thrown-together TV movie that never strays from cosy formula. The arc of classical romantic tragedy (let's call it Romeo And Romeo) is stymied by a situation that's as old as the hills, and there's not a single story beat or twist that comes as any kind of surprise.
The film's primary function, though, is political, and the dark drama is always in service of raising an awareness of the entrenched homophobia that exists on both sides of the border. Out In The Dark places this feeling of militant, sometimes murderous gay hatred at the centre of bigger problems within this fractured society, specifically the incompatibility of the traditional family unit with any type of modern attitude.
The film shifts into full-on political thriller mode in its second half, with lots of ruffled hair, nighttime runarounds and potshots fired into the air. It's also at this point where the film loses much of its interest, its initial, sober discussion of Nimr's dangerous flirtations being lost amid the mild peril and genre thrills.
Love across the borders.
Generic thriller across the borders.
Borders on the boring.