Breaking Fast Parent Guide
What makes this movie succeed is that it does more than just put a frothy little story on the screen.
Parent Movie Review
Gay. Muslim. Rom-com. Three elements that usually aren’t found in the same movie. But they come together in Breaking Fast and somehow they work, creating a good-hearted story of acceptance and empathy.
The film begins with Mo (Haaz Sleiman), a doctor in L.A., reeling after his closeted boyfriend (Patrick Sabongui) married a woman to please his conservative Muslim family. Browbeaten into attending a party hosted by his exuberant best friend, Sam (Amin El Gamal), Mo meets Kal (Michael Cassidy), a white actor who astounds everyone by speaking Arabic. A long walk and romantic interludes follow, and it’s pretty clear that Mo and Kal are interested in each other…but Mo has a lot of emotional baggage he needs to jettison.
Also slowing down the relationship is Ramadan, the Muslim holy month during which devout followers fast from food, drink, and impure thoughts and acts from sunrise to sunset. This keeps both lust (sometimes) and sex off the screen and gives Mo and Kal time to get to know each other, especially when Kal offers to help cook iftar, the meal that concludes the daily fast.
Part of what makes this film work is that it doesn’t stray too far from traditional romantic comedy tropes. All the usual elements are here: the crazy best friend, the awkward meeting, a romantic scene in the rain, misunderstandings, a relationship montage set to music, a moment of reckoning, and a grand gesture. But what really makes the movie succeed is that it does more than just put a frothy little story on the screen.
Breaking Fast is really a film about looking past stereotypes and preconceptions. As a Muslim in America, Mo all too familiar with the harm caused by prejudice, but he soon learns that he harbors negative stereotypes of his own. When he tells Kal that actors make him uncomfortable, Kal points out that “Assumptions are generally incorrect and they never feel good.”
The film also does an excellent job of highlighting the diversity among Muslims, who are usually treated as violent extremists on the big screen. Mo is a practicing Muslim who has reconciled his sexuality with his faith and who insists that “Being gay makes me a better Muslim.” His family are also accepting and welcoming of his partners. Sam, on the other hand, finds Islam less welcoming and has a family with much stricter interpretations of the faith. This is a useful reminder that Muslims are just as varied as are Christians in terms of their beliefs and practice.
Breaking Fast isn’t rated but it fits comfortably in the PG-13 rating, with most issues in the area of sexual content. There are no bedroom scenes, which is a rarity for a romantic comedy, but there is plenty of sexual innuendo, including slang terms for gay sex and a brief shot of a man’s backside in a non-sexual context. Thankfully, the film adopts Mo’s approach when he’s talking to Sam, “Keep it macro. I don’t want details.”
If you have traditional views of sexuality, the PG-13 sexual content will still probably be problematic, but if you consider yourself an LGBTQ ally or are trying to further your understanding of the community, this film will be welcome. And if you’re a rom-com fan who wants something a little different, that digs a little deeper – Breaking Fast will hit the spot.Directed by Mike Mosallam. Starring Haaz Sleiman, Michael Cassidy, Amin El Gamal. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release January 22, 2021. Updated January 22, 2021
Watch the trailer for Breaking Fast
Rating & Content Info
Why is Breaking Fast rated Not Rated? Breaking Fast is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: None noted.
Sexual Content: There are a couple of scenes of men kissing. A gay man talks about being “outed”. Someone mentions herpes. There is a brief mention of a sex toy. A man is nicknamed “power bottom”. A birthday has a cake topper shaped like a naked man. A character encourages a friend to have casual sex. Someone jokes about porn. Main characters joke about female genitalia. A totally naked man is seen from behind in a non-sexual context. A main character jokes about an orgy.
Profanity: There are approximately two dozen profanities in the film, including about 18 terms of deity as well as a couple each of scatological curses and anatomical terms. There are also crude expressions for male genitalia and a vulgar phrase for gay sex.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People drink alcohol at a party. There is mention of someone who was an alcoholic.
Page last updated January 22, 2021
Breaking Fast Parents' Guide
Kal and Sam both take Mo to task for “brightsiding” – for constantly putting a positive spin on people’s painful experiences. They tell him that his constant refusal to acknowledge other perspectives invalidates their experience and leaves them feeling unheard. Do you think their complaints are valid? What’s the difference between optimism and “brightsiding”? Have you ever felt like your emotions or experiences were disregarded by people you were talking to? How can you honor the feelings of your friends and family?