Breaking Fast ***
Starring: Haaz Sleiman, Michael Cassidy, Amin El Gamal, Patrick Sabongui
Director: Mike Mosallam
New to Amazon Prime, Breaking Fast follows Mo (Sleiman), a Muslim doctor living in West Hollywood whose family are completely comfortable with him being gay. When he splits up with Hassan (Sabongui) who insists on remaining in the closet, he finds himself at parties with his flamboyant best friend Sam (El Gamal), where he meets Kal (Cassidy), a hunky actor who speaks Arabic. As it is the month of Ramadan, he is eager not to break his vows of abstinence during daylight hours, but Kal is completely understanding. Instead it is Sam, a non-practicing Muslim, that challenges Mo on how he can reconcile his faith with his sexuality.
Mostly, this is a light romantic comedy. Michael Cassidy makes for the perfect dreamy love interest (albeit it played by a straight actor), while Haaz Sleiman is an endearing and relatable lead. Sam, the sassy best friend, is entertaining and the film is well-structured and written with entertainment firmly in mind. However, what sets it apart is its discussion of the intersection between religion and sexuality.
Director Mosallam goes to great lengths to make Mo both devout and relatable. He is a practicing Muslim, who doesn’t drink, observes festivals, fasts and prays, whereas Sam has left this all behind to live a secular life. Mo explains the difference between the Qur’an’s teachings and the politics of Muslim states, but it is interesting to watch two characters’ wildly different responses to the same challenges. And with its intricate depiction of the rituals surrounding Ramadan, we get to see a culture through a LGBT+ lens without really having to think about any negative association between Islam and homosexuality.
In its execution, this is a solid rom-com with a wealthy man falling in love in a high-gloss We-Ho world. Its discussions of Islam place it a cut above the usual romantic schmaltz, but it’s still fluffy happily-ever-after rose-tinted idealism. Which is lovely, right?
UK Release: Out Now on Amazon Prime