FILM

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT -

Ten years af­ter Yossi And Jag­ger, the ground­break­ing Is­raeli drama about gay love in the mil­i­tary, comes its se­quel. But does Yossi live up to its pre­de­ces­sor? Re­view by Marc An­drews.

In 2002, a film about two sol­diers sta­tioned at the Is­rael-Le­banon bor­der who hap­pen to fall in love was a global gay fes­ti­val hit. Its stars were the beau­ti­ful sol­dier Ye­huda Levi (as Lior/ Jag­ger) and his com­man­der Ohad Knoller (as Yossi). Trag­i­cally, Jag­ger is shot and killed in an am­bush and that’s where Ey­tan Fox’s film ended.

Fox now re­turns to find out where Yossi is a decade later. We dis­cover him as an over­weight, morose heart sur­geon work­ing in a Tel Aviv hos­pi­tal who spends most of his time sleep­ing, watch­ing gay porn or fend­ing off the af­fec­tions of the fe­male nurs­ing staff.

That all changes, how­ever, when he per­forms a rou­tine car­diac check. Yossi recog­nises his pa­tient as the mother of Jag­ger, but doesn’t say any­thing. He goes so far as to give her a lift home fol­low­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion, qui­etly ques­tion­ing her while she sus­pects noth­ing.

When an on­line date goes hor­ri­bly wrong (af­ter he sends a photo of him­self when he was years younger and prob­a­bly 20kgs lighter), Yossi takes stock of his life and de­cides to visit Jag­ger’s par­ents and tell them the truth about his love for their dead son. Jag­ger’s mother goes into shock and asks him to leave, while his fa­ther asks if he’d like to see Jag­ger’s room. Back at the hos­pi­tal, his fel­low doc­tors point out that Yossi looks “like an op­er­at­ing ta­ble” and he de­cides to take a long-over­due va­ca­tion. On his way to the sea­side, Yossi stops for road­side food where he meets four stranded sol­diers and of­fers to give them a lift into town.

Sparks fly be­tween Yossi and openly-gay sol­dier Tom (Oz Ze­havi) who is ridicu­lously sexy. Yossi de­cides to stay in the same ho­tel as the sol­diers, meet­ing them later pool­side. In a not-so-sub­tle nod to the sit­u­a­tion, Tom no­tices Yossi is read­ing the clas­sic older-ma­ne­n­amored-with-young-man novel, Death In Venice. As he flits around in tight black Speedos, you can al­most see Yossi’s erec­tion burst out of his baggy shorts while he watches both in awe and lust. But when Tom and a hunky mas­sage ther­a­pist start com­par­ing tat­toos by the pool, he be­comes jeal­ous and heads back to his room more morose than ever.

With­out want­ing to spoil the end­ing, no­body dies this time and there is very much a happy end­ing. While the film is rather slow-mov­ing and pon­der­ous, it is a per­cep­tive study on how it can take a new love to bring out the beauty in a per­son who has shut them­selves off to love. In many ways this is a one-man movie

In a not-so-sub­tle nod to the sit­u­a­tion, Tom no­tices Yossi is read­ing the clas­sic older-ma­ne­n­amored-with­y­oung-man novel, Death In Venice.

with Ohad Knoller mak­ing the most of his meaty role. So much so that he packed on the pounds to make him­self be­liev­ably frumpy.

The DVD ex­tras in­clude in­ter­views with both stars and this time we hear Ohad speak English (the movie is in He­brew with English sub­ti­tles) and we also see he hasn’t yet man­aged to lose all those ki­los he packed on. Oz re­veals that this is the first gay char­ac­ter he’s played, al­though he has played plenty of sol­diers be­fore. He also notes that Yossi And Jag­ger was the first film to han­dle gay mat­ters in Is­rael which he saw and in­sists it didn’t have the ef­fect on him “that it did for gay peo­ple”. We guess this is his way of com­ing out as straight. There’s also a 45-minute short film from Ey­tan Fox about Is­raeli sol­diers (he does love that theme!) called Time Off.

Yossi is poignant, thought­ful and, de­spite its lan­guid pace, has plenty to of­fer the viewer if you’re pre­pared to let the movie seep into your con­scious­ness.

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