›› Yossi - Ha-Sippur Shel Yossi
a film by Eytan Fox.
2012 | 84 mins | Israel.
principal players: Ohad Knoller / Yossi, Oz Zehavi / Tom, Orly Silbersatz / Varda, Ola Schur Selektar / Nina, Lior Ashkenazi / Moti, Gil Desiano / Yariv, Shlomo Sadan / Professor Neuman, Raffi Tavor / Mr Amichai, Meir Golan / Nimrod, Shlomi Ben Attar / Fefer, Amir Jerassi / Benda and Gal Yaari as the Massage Therapist.
special appearance / score by singer, songwriter and actress Keren Ann.
Adapted Synopsis: "Former soldier Yossi, turned workaholic doctor is set to see his mundane routine shaken when an emotionally charged reunion with a face from his past, is destined to break the shackles of his solitary gay existence in Tel Aviv. Now on the road to southern Israel, could a chance encounter with a lively group of young officers and in particular all round cutie Tom, finally stir Yossi out of his perennial slumber?"
Returning to the work that made his directorial name, here Eytan Fox charms with the long awaited sequel to the story of Yossi & Jagger. And the wait has been well worth it. For ten years on, here we find Fox opting for a tale in two parts, given the opening forty minutes detail the life of Yossi during the intervening years. Only it's not been that much of a life, one that has seen Yossi pour himself into his medical studies and thereafter and somewhat ironically, his work as a cardiologist, even if he is unable to mend his own broken heart. Opting for sessions of internet porn, coupled with the occasional (Gil Desiano as super stud Yariv) one-night stand, as a substitute for a long lost joy for life, he cuts a sad, lonely figure in desperate need of friendship, only to reject every opportunity that comes his way, ever lamenting a love, forever lost. Tragic, downbeat, this is the story of a self-pitying man whose successful career is but a mask for a life put on hold, that of a dejected soul as one scene in particular, paints an all too acute picture of.
Only as the city story draws to a close, we've off to sunnier times on the beach, courtesy of the arrival in Yossi's life of a quartet of combat officers. For it is here that first time writer Itay Segal plays with the narrative, given the character of Tom is almost, but not quite, a mirror image of Jagger; forever living life to the full, always smiling. Wonderfully played by Israeli heartthrob Oz Zehavi, whose mix of subtle and overt expressions signal his inner feelings, it is now that we hear the beat of the films' romantic heart, even if Tom is faced with an uphill struggle to wrestle Yossi out of his mournful ways.
It's okay to be gay in Yossi.
Thankfully in reprising his original role, if not exactly the same character that once was, Ohad (The Bubble) Knoller beautifully juxtaposes his melancholic demeanour, with a smile and laugh long thought forgotten. Only look closer and there's more to this story than a lush, slow paced account of love lost and found. For whilst it's been "okay to be gay" within the Israeli ranks since 1993, the film does however poignantly contrast Yossi's preference for a closeted life, with Tom's openly out self.
Alone at last in Yossi.
Intercut with a real sense of camaraderie between the boys, including Tom's comrades who are totally at ease with his homosexuality and complete with Zehavi displaying all of his manly charms, this is a story that above all cuts to the core of the human spirit, that of a moving tale of a broken man given back his joie du vie, by way of love. And IF this well-executed piece is to mark the final appearance of Yossi, then and with a "two short films rolled into a feature" feel to this work, given and bar Knoller, each is a self-contained cast set, then this "trilogy" has come to a most felicitous end. Sensuous, touching and enchantedly life-affirming. Frankly, I loved it, even if I suspect that on replay, many may cut straight to the more joyous act.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the side monty.
Overall - file under ... 4 stars.