Below, director Eytan Fox shares a scene from “Yossi,” his acclaimed follow-up to “Yossi & Jagger,” that premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival to great notices. Written by Itay Segal, the sequel picks up with Yossi as a workaholic Tel Aviv doctor who meets a soldier on the road after he’s forced to take a vacation. The film is now playing in New York and is set to open nationally in the coming weeks.
The scene I chose from the film is where Yossi goes to visit and confront Lior (Jagger’s) parents.
In “Yossi and Jagger,” after Lior’s death, Yossi visits Lior’s parents to sit shivah, the Jewish week of mourning. It was there that his friend Yaeli explained that Lior was called “Jagger” by his friends because, “in our eyes he was like a rock star.”
It was important for me to shoot this scene in the same location we shot Jagger’s parents home in “Yossi and Jagger.” Ten years have passed and everyone has gotten a little older including the actual husband and wife who own and live in the house. The same location enabled Ohad Knoller (who plays Yossi) to really feel that he was returning to “the scene of the crime” to start dealing with that trauma, to start a healing process. We went into the house and shot as is. No art or props were added except for a framed picture of their dead son and Yossi’s lover (played by Yehuda Levi). The scene starts at the door. Jagger’s mother who is actually a patient of Dr Guttmann (Yossi) is alarmed to see him. She thinks he might have come to talk to her about her health. Why else would her doctor be at her door at 7AM in the morning? When the cinematographer suggested Ohad sit on the sofa with his back to the wall I said, “No, he has to sit at the exact same place he sat last time- opposite the parents who are with their back to the wall. We started shooting early in the morning and tried to keep that natural early morning light. The Alexa works quite well with very minimal use of lightning. The sound design is built of only birds and distant traffic. The location of Hezeliya is a quiet suburb of Tel Aviv.
In this scene, Yossi has been driving aimlessly all night and fell asleep in his car in front of the parents’ house. He is ready to really talk to them. I directed Ohad not to look in the parents’ eyes until the very last seconds of his revealing monologue. We cut to only one reaction shot of the parents. I wanted to keep the audience connected with Yossi, in his soul. As we did in “Yossi and Jagger,” watching this young army commander who could not say a thing to the parents about his love story with their son.
Audiences left the first film feeling that Yossi will never be able to recover from the loss of Jagger, leaving him feeling lonely and mentally crippled forever. I had to go back.
In “Yossi” he will tell and confront the truth. And even though the parents cannot handle the truth, by finally speaking it, it will set him free. He will go up to Jagger’s room and he will say goodbye to what he perceives as the love of his life.
By dissolving between his face and the open desert road we see that Yossi has made a decision that will ultimately lead him to his salvation. Becoming a new young Israeli man who will live his life differently, who knows better, and who will live his life with pride.