YOSSI – The Review
Eytan Fox’s gay-themed drama YOSSI is a an emotional story of starting to find one’s way back after losing a love – something to which everyone, gay or straight, should be able to relate to. The new film takes place ten years after the tragic events of Fox’s earlier YOSSI AND JAGGER, an international hit film from 2003 about Yossi, an Israeli commander whose secret gay lover Levi is killed during a raid on Lebanon. A decade later Yossi (again played by Ohad Knoller) is still suffering over the death of Levi, remains closeted (just as he was as a soldier) and appears to have few, if any friends. Now chubby and unshaven, he’s become a respected cardiologist. He spends a lot of time at the hospital where he works avoiding the wasted sexual advances of a clueless female colleague and even more time at home trolling gay porn and hook up sites. A chance encounter inspires Yossi to take a road trip and visit the parents of Levi but he gets sidetracked after encountering a group of soldiers he gives a ride to. One of them, Tom (Oz Zehavi), is attracted to Yossi, who realizes it’s never too late to find happiness.
YOSSI is not as gloomy as it sounds. There are some lively and amusing scenes involving Yossi’s anonymous Internet hook-ups and a funny sequence where a coworker tries to fix him up with a woman during a night out partying. Eytan Fox is an accomplished director working with an adequate budget so we are spared the technical problems of gay cinema on a shoe string. The acting and dialog are convincing, the film looks great and, at 85 minutes it never wears out its welcome but while I appreciated its sincerity and brevity, it felt a bit sketchy and underwritten. It’s never made clear why, young model-handsome Tom would find Yossi, who’s kind of a drag, attractive or fun to be with. That whole romance exists just to cheer up Yossi, who’s so mopey that his plight inspires more embarrassment than sympathy. But director Fox handles some risky subject matter with grace and charm and Knoller’s magnificent and sensitive performance also makes the whole scenario unexpectedly poignant and sweetly sad. YOSSI deserves to be seen by those who enjoy this type of well-made melodrama that is quiet and reflective instead of big and bombastic.
3 of 5 Stars
YOSSI opens in St. Louis Friday, February 22nd at Landmark’s Tivoli Theater