Review: Borekas

Written and directed by Saleh Saadi, a father gives his son a ride to the airport and the car breaks down on the way. Starring: Anan Abu-Jaber and Yussuf Abu-Warda.

Borekas hits upon a theme that any, and probably every, queer person can relate to, the struggle to come out. More specifically, worrying so much about what someone might think, or whether it will ruin your relationship, that it starts to create a distance on its own. How having that fear causes you to subconsciously push that person away to try and avoid conflict. It’s a sad truth and it’s dealt with in a subtle and graceful way here by Saleh Saadi. He writes such a relatable father-child relationship, the typical dad stubbornness and refusal to let go of their pride, as well as the resulting impatience from his son. As it moves forward, it also develops a sweetness which is lovely to watch, the two of them feel the growing drift between them but clearly the connection is still there.

Saadi creates a strong atmosphere, it’s compelling but not heavy, and most impressively it manages to say a lot without needing to say much at all. Helped by the superb quality of his shots and Shira Rausnitz’s cinematography, there’s a rich natural colour and light which gives a great clarity. Saadi’s editing work again enhances that further, the way that it mixes the different angles together gives an excellent variety. The direction also creates a good balance, there’s not a lot happening but the way that it brings through the emotional subtext makes it feel like there is. The style as a whole is graceful and understated, dealing with a very emotional topic without a need for dramatics.

As well as a relatable story, the performances from Anan Abu-Jaber and Yussuf Abu-Warda are extremely sympathetic and easy to invest in. They easily convey the existing relationship between the two, the growing conflict and distance. At the same time they also portray the love between the two, the little gestures which show their larger relationship and previous closeness that they both want to get back. The two of them bring through a great deal of touching emotion, again the style of the film presents it in a more subtle way, it’s not an outpour, it’s a gradual, growing atmosphere of love.

Borekas tells the experience of coming out in an impressively elegant and understated style. It dives into how relationships are impacted by secrecy and how worrying about creating distance in itself pushes towards that separation. Saleh Saadi shows a huge amount of talent and skill, it’s hard to believe that it’s his debut short film. The visual is strong and colourful, there’s a superb mix of different angles and framing which help to create an affecting and expressive atmosphere. It’s a touching story, with great performances and a sweet, lasting message.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

Reviewed as part of BFI Flare 2022

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