Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sublet is a cute depiction of gay life told entirely through the romantic lens of a flashy travel destination. When New York Times writer Michael (John Benjamin Hickey) comes to Tel Aviv to “see how much he can discover about the city in just 5 days,” he doesn’t expect the connection he forms with his temporary housemate Tomer (Niv Nissim). The profound effect this new relationship has on Michael’s life helps to pull him out of a tragic rut. Tomer, an aspiring “artistic horror” filmmaker, is not into labels and prioritizes sex above meaningful bonding. A journey begins to form, one which sets both men on a meaningful path of self-discovery.

This is not an action-packed film; instead, Sublet is quiet and contemplative. It eventually morphs into something equal parts sexy and dangerous. Attention to detail is impeccable: Tomer has a framed poster in his apartment of the seminal gay horror film of the 1980’s, Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Michael wears a set of hand-me-down pajamas that he refuses to change, even amidst a lingering Grindr date. Character arcs for both Michael and Tomer are satisfying and concise.  Though chaotic and intense, seeing Tel Aviv through Tomer’s eyes is transformative for Michael. At first, Michael is very uptight, but Tomer slows begins to peel away Michael’s thick layers. Eytan Fox’s bold vision is unconventional, and every frame is spilling over with unbridled raw emotion.

Sublet played as part of the virtual Oxford Film Festival, taking place from April 1st – April 30th.

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