In 2002, director Eytan Fox brought us “Yossi & Jagger, ” a film simply described as “a gay love story between two Israeli soldiers.” It packed a lot of emotion and feeling in a scant 65 minutes. If you haven’t seen that film, please do – and stop reading this review as there are major spoilers to that film contained herein.
It’s ten years later, and Fox returns with the even more simply titled “Yossi,” which continues the story of the aforementioned character. Yossi (Ohad Noller) is out of the military, a practicing physician, and incredibly lonely and unhappy. (Having your lover die in your arms can lead to such a life.) He spends a lot of time at the hospital avoiding the unwanted advances of female colleagues and his time at home trolling chat rooms and hook up sites. He’s ten years older, several pounds heavier and still unable to deal with the truth about who he is. The emptiness in Yossi’s life is never more evident then in a particularly devastating scene involving a chat room hook up.
Forced by his hospital administrator to take some time off, Yossi heads off on a road trip (to Gaza?!) and happens upon a group of soldiers who missed their transport. He offers them a lift to the resort they’re headed for, and ends up staying there. There seems to be this one particular soldier… And so it goes. Yossi’s reawakening begins.
An interesting side note is that “Yossi” also gives us a glimpse of how an openly gay soldier serving his country is treated by fellow soldiers – pretty much how every other soldier is treated. Mind you, gay men and women have been able to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces for over twenty years now and their world hasn’t crumbled yet (though it always seems to be on a precipice, for any number of reason.)
Coming in at an also compact 84 minutes, “Yossi” is a sweet tale of starting to find one’s way back after losing a love – something to which everyone, gay or straight, can probably relate.
“Yossi” opens in the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday, February 15th at Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinemas in San Francisco and the California Theatre in Berkeley. Check your local theatre listings.