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Breaking Fast (2020) IMDB description: “Mo, a practicing Muslim living in West Hollywood, is learning to navigate life post-heartbreak. Enter Kal, an All-American guy who surprises Mo by offering to break fast with him during the holy month of Ramadan.”
Errante Corazón (2021) IMDB description: “It follows an angst-ridden father, Santiago, whose emotional crisis is exacerbated by a complex and intense relationship with his teenage daughter who seeks to break free from him.”
Why I took them off the list: Since I did a Valentine’s double feature review of 2 gay rom-coms last year, I decided to follow tradition and cross two more I had on my list off for the holiday once more. So, let’s dig in!
Review of Breaking Fast (2020)
Considerably lighter than most of the gay-themed films I’ve reviewed in the past, Breaking Fast follows the rom-com formula pretty closely, with the biggest novelty being that it centers around a Muslim American man’s search for Mr. Right.
As in Cicada (2021), there are past traumas for the central couple to overcome, but the tone is way more comedic than in that film, and the story employs the typical tropes of a romantic comedy. There’s an awkward meet-cute that borders on cringe, overbearing family members, and an annoying, flamboyant best friend to tell it as it is.
The movie is also full of cheesy musical cues and throws in a series of minor misunderstandings in the second act to create conflict. It, of course, ends in a dramatic declaration of love at a karaoke bar, and all the problems are neatly tidied up before the credits roll. There are few surprises in the film, but it’s entertaining (and short) enough to pass as a decent gay addition to the (overwhelmingly straight) genre.
Haaz Sleiman Is the Main Reason to Watch
Leads Haaz Sleiman and Michael Cassidy (who also had a small role in Hypochondriac (2022)) are both easy on the eyes and make for an appealing pairing. Cassidy is a little bit more wooden as Kal, and has to deliver some soapy melodramatic exposition late in the film, but is charming enough. The legendary Veronica Cartwright (Alien) also makes a welcome (but far too brief) appearance as his stepmother.
But the real draw is Sleiman, who oozes the same charisma he displayed in his excellent performances in The Visitor (2007) and Nurse Jackie (2009-2015). A compelling presence, he manages to embody a well-rounded character who’s articulate and personable but also somewhat insecure and vulnerable.
Final Score: 6/10
Breaking Fast (2020): Worth Watching?
If you’re in the mood for a light romantic comedy, then Breaking Fast could be right up your street. Although predictable and very cheesy at times, it’s an undemanding rom-com that benefits greatly from Hazz Sleiman’s likable leading turn.
Breaking Fast (2020)
Written and directed by: Mike Mosallam
Cast: Haaz Sleiman, Michael Cassidy, Amin El Gamal
Review of Errante Corazón [Wandering Heart] (2021)
Errante Corazón follows an Argentinian gay man, Santi, who’s a bit of a mess and not really sure where he’s going in life. He’s struggling to balance running his successful gay bar, raising his unstable teenage daughter, and looking after his elderly mother with a party lifestyle that’s getting out of control. Fully aware he’s not getting any younger, he desperately tries to find connection despite his issues.
Constantly trying to find something to keep him occupied and perked up, he’s quick to put on a disarming smile to charm and please those around him. But this quickly fades to a troubled frown when other people aren’t looking. “You need to find your inner balance”, his ex tells him, and the film is centered around his attempts to do just that while dealing with some serious self-destructive tendencies.
Like God’s Own Country (2017) the film is generally an affecting narrative about a gay man trying to get his demons under control so he can move on with his life. Although the film can get a bit melodramatic at times, especially in Santi’s interactions with his daughter Laila, it’s overall an intimate and compassionate portrait of a troubled but well-meaning man trying to figure out what real happiness is.
Leonardo Sbaraglia Shines
Leonardo Sbaraglia, who I’d only seen before in the decent Spanish thriller Intacto (2001), is incredibly charming and likable as Santi despite his failings. He really succeeds in conveying a character that’s seemingly full of joie de vivre but is intensely vulnerable and desperate on the inside.
It’s an emotionally raw and brave performance, not least in a scene where a drunken Santi dances and sings along to Careless Whisper by George Micheal while completely nude.
The film’s orchestral score can be a little bit overbearing at times, and it feels a little bit long. But it’s beautifully and intimately shot, with a lot of close-ups to emphasize the emotional states of the characters. There are also a few standout visuals, especially one in which Santi and his daughter dance in the rain with umbrellas while lightning flashes all around them.
Final score: 7/10
Errante Corazón (2021): Worth Watching?
Yes, Errante Corazón is an affecting drama with a standout performance from Leonardo Sbaraglia. Although it can feel a little bit repetitive in its messaging and is overlong, it’s an intimate story that’s generally well-told.
Errante Corazón (2021)
Written and directed by Leonardo Brzezicki
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