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Heartland: Breaking Fast

by on October 11, 2020
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Before starting this review, it’s worth mentioning that in some Orthodox views of Islam, homosexuality is still a sin punishable by death.  Shocking, yes, but we are not too far removed from this type of treatment to members of the LGBTQ community in the United States.

Set in West Hollywood, we meet our main character, a doctor named Mo (Haaz Sleiman) which is short for Mohammed.  Mo and his family are celebrating the Islamic month of Ramadan.  During this holy month, Muslims engage in fasting from sunrise to sunset; they are to abstain from food, water, and impure thoughts.  In the evenings, when the sun goes down, Muslims break their fast with a meal called “Iftar.”

Prior to the evening’s Iftar, Mo is presented with quite a dilemma: his current partner Hassan (Patrick Sabongui), also a practicing Muslim, has made the difficult decision that he needs to get married in order to appease family’s strict traditions.  Further, Hassan has even found a bride who will be okay with this arrangement…they will maintain their current relationship, but for aesthetics there will need to be a sham wedding and a love-triangle of sorts.

We flash-forward one year later, to the next year’s Ramadan…

Mo has left that relationship with Hassan because he clearly did not want to continue that relationship under those artificial conditions.  It is worth noting that Mo’s family, though also Muslim, are more liberal in their views of Islam and accepting of his sexuality.  This failed relationship, and the circumstances by which they ended, have soured Mo’s view of the world and others, although it appears that his faith in Islam has gone untouched.  This hardened view of the world is challenged, however, when Mo meets an American named Kal (Michael Cassidy) at his best friend Sam’s (Amin El Gamal) birthday party.  Kal, though not a Muslim, begins breaking fast by helping Mo prepare Iftar during this year’s Ramadan.

As their friendship blossoms, it causes Mo to question himself, his views of Islam, and his view of the world.  This film was written and directed by Mike Mosallam, with a well-written script, great soundtrack, and cinematography.  Breaking Fast causes the viewer to think about big, existential questions related to religion and sexuality.  On a micro-scale, we also get to explore the meaning of cultural influences and our own preconceived notions.

I highly recommend this entrant into this years 2020 Heartland Film Festival.

 

 

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