As with all things surrounding the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s taken a long time – too long – for movies centering on them to come to the fore. Even this far into the 21st century, a disheartening number of films continue to focus on the coming out experience instead of showing people living their lives like anybody else in the world.
In that respect, the new film Breaking Fast is a nice change of pace, featuring Mo (Haaz Sleiman), a doctor living in West Hollywood, as completely out to his family and living proudly with his gay friends. It also has the unique aspect of Mo being a practicing Muslim, with his faith playing a big part in the film’s plot, as the film takes place during Ramadan, the holy month during which Muslims fast every day.
The film, written and directed by Mike Mosallam, follows the structure of a romantic comedy. Just as Ramadan starts, Mo meets Kal (Michael Cassidy), which is unfortunate timing since tradition calls for him to not only go on a food fast, but also abstain from any romantic relationships. Nevertheless, Mo and Kal develop an intense friendship, breaking every day’s fast together.
The concept of the film is interesting, combining two groups who have historically not been represented well in media. The impact of seeing positive portrayals of gay people and Muslims, especially in the same movie, should not be underestimated. Mosallam has a nice approach for both aspects throughout the film, although the touch is light given the tone of the film.
Unfortunately, he’s not as skilled in writing dialogue or inspiring good acting. For much of the story, Mosallam tries to force the plot instead of letting it come naturally. What should be romantic or funny ends up being inert and lifeless. Worse, most of the actors speak as if they are reading off the script for the first time, with much of the dialogue coming off as stilted and actors stepping on each other’s lines.
Consequently, the premise never reaches its potential. Sleiman and Cassidy each have their charms, but neither puts together a good enough performance to make up for the film’s faults. Strangely, even in a film filled with gay characters, Mosallam includes the rom-com staple of an over-the-top gay best friend in the form of Sam (Amin El Gamal), who winds up being the most entertaining part of the film in his brief appearances.
Breaking Fast has a unique story that gives underrepresented groups a chance to lead a film for once. But with a poorly executed plot and acting that is never believable, it never rises above mediocre status.
Breaking Fast is available on premium video on demand.