'Sublet' Director Eytan Fox Reflects on Changing Times

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday July 18, 2021

Niv Nissim and John Benjamin Hickey in "Sublet"
Niv Nissim and John Benjamin Hickey in "Sublet"  (Source:Obscured Pictures)

"When I was a kid in Jerusalem, gay men were not supposed to have relationships," Israeli director Eytan Fox told EDGE. "They were only into cruising parks and one-night stands."

Fox, who was chatting about his sweet new film "Sublet," reflected further about attitudes from decades go: "People thought you could not maintain a long-term relationship, there was something screwed up about you. You'd never have a family, of course; you wouldn't have children."

Eytan Fox  (Source: Filippo Milani)

"Sublet" explodes those fictions while pursuing deeper truths with humor and heart and growing sexual chemistry. When we meet him, New York Times travel writer Michael (played by John Benjamin Hickey) is married and settled, and in the midst of negotiating with his husband about having a child via surrogacy. Michael, like Fox, is in his 50s; he's a survivor of the AIDS epidemic, and when it comes to the attitudes and lifestyles that some young people have — younger people like 20-something Tomer (charismatic film newcomer Niv Nissim), whose Tel Aviv apartment Michael rents for a few days — Michael's habitual reticence clashes with his excited curiosity... never more so than when Tomer invites a date from a hookup app over for a three-way! (You'll just have to watch the film to find out how that, and other charged situations, turn out.)

Somewhere between Michael's cautious, trussed-up approach and Tomer's hormonal, free-for-all views about sex and relationships, the two men find common ground. Partly mentorship and partly simple affection, the friendship they forge is, Fox admitted, a reflection of the creative dialogue the filmmaker had to have with himself before making the film.

" 'Sublet" might be my most personal film, and it's very much about me now, about who I am today," the director of popular LGBTQ movies like "Cupcakes" and "Yossi" disclosed. "There were some films that I made and I thought, 'Okay, I'm making something about young people, but I'm not that anymore. I'm making a film about something that supposedly interests me, but maybe not really.' And this time, there was a complete synchronicity between who I was when I started working on 'Sublet,' and what the film was."

To find out what else Fox revealed about the movie, his life and career, and the electricity between the film's two leads, read the full interview.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.