Saturday, June 8, 2013

Heartbreak In Israel (Movie Review: Yossi)

Sometimes a movie just gets to you unexpectedly. Such was the case of "Yossi," a film from Israeli director Eytan Fox. It's the sequel to his 2002 film "Yossi and Jagger." (Though you don't really need to have seen that movie to appreciate this film) Yossi lost his lover in the Israeli army, and now is living as a doctor doing his residency. He lives a quiet, and melancholy life. He is still grieving, after all these years, and is anti-social. Fox vividly presents his sadness, and it is heartbreaking. he works, and has not taken a vacation in ages. One day, he sees Jagger's mother in the hospital, and this gives him the chance to move forward: he tells her and her husband about her relationship with their son, who they had no idea was gay. It's an intense, and never overbearing scene. This prompts him to take a road trip to Sinai, but along the way he picks up a group of young Israeli soldiers. One of them is Tom, (Oz Zehabi, a handsome young Jude Law and Ryan Raz lookalike) an openly-gay military man. Yossi is amazed at how free he is. (Israel was one of the first countries to have openly gay people serve in the military) They have a connection, and he forsakes his Sinai trip to stay with them at the seaside resort of Eliat. The one thing I loved about this film is that I never knew where the story would turn. I am sometimes too jaded and cynical but the story here kept me guessing and hoping, and rooting. This is a gentle, sad, but ultimately uplifting movie, filled with a heartbreaking performance by Ohad Knoller as Yossi. I bet it breaks your heart, too.

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