I wasn’t the biggest fan of Eytan Fox’s 2002 film “Yossi & Jaggar.” A love story between two male Israeli soldiers, it was most certainly an affecting, sexy portrait of a doomed gay relationship in a very specific milieu. But I found it a little too soap-operatic, a little too unrealized…
Ten years later, however, it is clear that Fox has matured significantly as a filmmaker with his sequel of sorts to “Yossi & Jaggar,” titled simply “Yossi.” It’s a lovely little film about grief and aging and life’s second chances.
World premiering at Tribeca, the film plays like a sort of Israeli cross between Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” and Andrew Haigh’s “Weekend.” Ohad Knoller reprises his role of the now singular title character, now an overweight, closeted 34 year old doctor living in Tel Aviv. Still struggling with the tragic events that came at the end of the first film (spoiler alert: Jagger died), Yossi lives a sad, lonely life.
The film’s first act establishes his rather pathetic routine: He works a lot, he masturbates to bad gay porn, he eats shitty food, and in one of the film’s saddest, best scenes, he meets dudes off the internet by utilizing a misrepresentative photo from a good 5 or 6 years ago.
But thankfully for Yossi, it gets better. After he randomly meets a group of young Israeli soldiers, “Yossi” gives us a hopeful second act set on an Israeli resort. It is here a romance begins between Yossi and Tom (the ridiculously gorgeous sexpot that is Oz Zehavi), which slowly brings life back into Yossi’s faded mojo. While that’s certainly a storyline we’ve seen before, “Yossi” is a handed with such restraint and tenderness by Fox (and Knoller, who gives a fantastic performance) that that doesn’t matter. It also lacks the soap-operatics of “Jagger,” and feels wholly complete as the screen fades to black and the your heart jumps for Yossi and perhaps finds a little more hope for itself.
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