Last night, I had the chance to view Sublet, directed by Eytan Fox, which was the opening film of the Jerusalem Film Festival (which is currently taking place on-line). Filmmaker Eytan Fox is well-known for his many films, including Walk on Water, Yossi and Jagger, Bananot (Cupcakes), Song of the Siren.
Sublet is the story of an attraction between two gay men. One is young in his 20s from Tel Aviv and one is middle-aged from New York. Michael is a NY Times travel writer who comes to Tel Aviv for five days for his work. He sublets an apartment from Tomer, an aspiring filmmaker in his 20s. Tomer is messy, whereas Michael is neat and super-organized. Tomer says he doesn’t want to be tied down to one partner, whereas Michael says that the love of one partner is what makes life worth living. Tomer is making horror films and says he doesn’t like happy endings, whereas Michael is crazy about Hollywood musicals. Tomer drinks, smokes weed, and orders in sex like he’s ordering pizza, whereas Michael is shocked at this lifestyle.
There are many things that Michael doesn’t understand about young Israelis. In fact, he is especially surprised to learn that large numbers have moved to Berlin and he asks bluntly, how can they do that when Germany is the place that symbolizes Jewish tragedy?
Instead of seeing the tourist attractions of Tel Aviv, Tomer convinces Michael to visit the “real” Tel Aviv. He takes him for good food, to see an expressive and political dance event, to connect with the vibrant and pulsating night life of Tel Aviv (which is weird to see in these days of covid-19). Michael meets some of Tomer’s friends, and watches as he navigates the city. What are Michael’s conclusions? Tel Aviv, he says, is intense and chaotic yet laid back; it is full of contradictions.
Sublet is an honest look at these two men and their differing lifestyles. It is a bit disappointing in its lack of complexity and depth. But as a study of a relationship, it is fascinating to watch.