Metro Weekly

‘Like Me’ Review: Unlikely Story

Despite the compelling premise of a gay Tel Aviv teen kicked out after coming out, 'Like Me' stumbles over awkward direction.

Like Me
Like Me: Gal Amitai and Yoav Keren – Breaking Glass Pictures

Keeping pace with its free-spirited gay hero — a Tel Aviv high school senior named Tom — the indie drama Like Me (★★☆☆☆) makes broad, swift swings between emotional highs and lows.

In short order, Tom, portrayed by newcomer Yoav Keren, bounces from a threesome with a handsome gay couple, to being informed by his widower dad Gideon (Danny Geva) that, based on some tell-tale queerness Gideon found on the kid’s phone, he’s giving Tom two weeks to get out of the house.

Writer-director Eyal Kantor’s feature debut treads credible ground depicting Tom’s confusion as he processes being rejected by his emotionally distant dad. He still parties when he can with straight bestie Gilad (Mendi Barsheshet) and Gilad’s new Instagram-influencer girlfriend Noa (Roni Adler), but the hurt and anger seething beneath the smiles can surface when he least expects.

During a photo shoot, Rami (Gal Amitai), a smitten photographer twice Tom’s age, directs model Tom to pour that pain out, resulting in the most persuasively raw moments of Keren’s performance. Elsewhere, the actor appears in need of stronger direction to convey Tom’s complex, sometimes contradictory actions and urges.

Especially when those actions seem contradictory to common sense and reality, like when Tom intentionally trashes his bike, to create an excuse for running late on his Pizza Hut deliveries.

Sure, to embellish the fib, he lets the bike fall onto the pavement, where he tosses a handful of dirt over it and on his clothes and face. But he also violently kicks and stomps on the bike, his main mode of transportation throughout the rest of the movie’s shaky handheld shots of him biking the city streets.

Like Me
Like Me: Mendi Barsheshet and Yoav Keren – Breaking Glass Pictures

Tom saves his tip, but the moment, rather than coming across as a clever payoff, points to the same awkward direction that continually centers Tom’s ungainly dancing as seductive or alluring. In fact, the movie opens on a short clip of Tom dancing, ends with an extended video of him dancing to funk-pop trio half•alive’s “Still Feel,” and several times features him dancing with friends at parties, or flirting with Rami during photo shoots.

Meant to express Tom’s queer joy and youthful independence, his freestyle moves don’t generally express any sexy sense of rhythm or physical confidence. Keren, who doesn’t dance like someone professionally trained, might have improvised Tom’s dance-like-no-one’s-watching flails and twists, and that’s fine. But the reliance on dance as a thematic touchstone perhaps warranted the contributions of a choreographer to find a language of movement that Keren actually speaks fluently.

As is, the desired effect doesn’t register decisively. The performance and staging are more convincing in scenes showing the intimate closeness between Tom and Gilad. Their attraction builds as the pair rehearse their amorous roles in a school production of The Picture of Dorian Gray. And Gilad takes it upon himself to teach his childhood friend how to caress a girl before moving in for a kiss.

The will-they-or-won’t-they stays headed in one predictable direction, but Barsheshet, playing the typically wishy-washy one in the relationship, adds a frisson of tension to Gilad’s dance with possible bisexuality. Tom’s own indecisive behavior — pining for Gilad’s attention, then running to Rami whenever Gilad ignores or mistreats him — also plays out honestly.

By comparison, the running subtext about how all these young people’s behavior is warped by their compulsion to craft stories for social media consumption feels forced and dated — like an ill-timed dancer, just missing the beat of a familiar tune.

Like Me is available on VOD and digital platforms, including iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and local cable & satellite providers, and on DVD. Visit

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