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Yossi - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

I don't know why it took me nearly the entire length of Yossi to realize it's a sequel to Yosssi & Jager, an Israeli film that was released ten years ago about two men in the Israeli military who fall in love. I even remembered Yossi & Jager, although I couldn't remember how much I liked it; a check of my Netflix DVD shipping history reveals I gave it two stars out of 5 after seeing it in November 2006. I guess I didn't like it. It's vaguely coming back to me now . . . I think I thought it was too slow.

Yossi & Jager was released in 2002, and even features the same actor (Ohad Knoller) played Yossi. Jager died, though. In Yossi, the setting is ten years later, and Yossi is a practicing doctor who is deeply closeted and still struggling to come to terms with both his own sexuality and the loss of Jager. He happens to see Jager's mother in his hospital and embarks on an awkward sequence where he offers her a ride home without ever telling her who he is.

Much of Yossi is slow and bordering on tedious as well, but it turns out to be one of those slow movies where patience is a virtue. It turns out to be surprisingly sweet and touching, even though Yossi's new love interest is clearly about ten years younger than him -- right at the same age Yager would have been at the time of his death. Tom (Oz Zehavi) is even currently in the military. Maybe Yossi should be in therapy rather than in Tom's pants, but, okay, Tom very coyly and systematically makes his pants available. I mean, it takes pretty much the whole length of the movie. And, well, Tom's got this going for him: he's way hotter than Jager could ever have hoped to be. That's not important to Yossi, nor should it be, but for viewers who might like to be distracted by hot guys -- it might be relevant.

Director Eytan Fox, who also did Yossi & Jager (as well as, incidentally, the superb Walk on Water), does something interestig here. Ohad Knoller clearly chunked out a bit in the past ten years, and Fox incorporates that into Yossi as a character. There's a sequence where Yossi hooks up with a hot guy online, who calls him on using an old photo that makes him look better than he does now.

Yossi's lonely life makes a twist turn when he happens upon a group of young soldiers who miss a bus, and he offers them a ride. This is how he meets Tom, who is openly gay, and ultimately reveals to Yossi that the military's attitudes have changed in the past ten years. This is where Yossi picks up the pace, if slightly, and becomes less tedious. Even though it's a gay romance, it plays a little like an old-fashioned courtship -- albeit one lasting only a few days. With each passing scene, the sexual tension between them builds, and even in their unlikely partnership, you want something to happen between them.

Once it finally does, it's a scene of surprisingly naked, if understated, emotion. It's far from melodrama; this is a very quiet movie. It sort of sneaks up on you. Its ending is a little bit hokey, but, well, it makes you happy. That, I suppose, is better than the tragic ending of the film that came before it -- and leaves a lingering sense of hope.

After his lover dies in a military exercise, a devastated Yosssi (Ohad Knoller) must move from grief and shame into acceptance of his homosexuality.

Overall: B
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