Film Review: ‘Yossi’ a sequel to an Israeli gay classic

Ohad Knoller (far right) plays the title character in Eytan Fox's "Yossi"  Credit: Strand Releasing
Ohad Knoller (far right) plays the title character in Eytan Fox’s “Yossi”
Credit: Strand Releasing

Gay American cinema is full of coming-out and coming-of-age tales, but unlike the Israeli drama “Yossi,” they’re generally not about men in their 30s. It’s difficult to tell how much of Yossi’s (Ohad Knoller) unwillingness to step out of the closet is a cultural trait; after all, Tel Aviv is known for its gay nightlife and the Israeli army allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly long before the American military did. All the same, “Yossi” often plays like an American film about gay characters from 25 or 30 years ago.

“Yossi” is a sequel to the military love story “Yossi & Jagger,” made a decade ago. There, Yossi’s lover died tragically. When “Yossi” begins, the character, now a doctor, still hasn’t gotten over his loss. Much chubbier than he appeared in the first film, Yossi spends his nights looking at porn online and having humiliating hook-up sessions. However, he steps outside his shell when he meets a group of young soldiers on a trip to the desert, and makes his first steps towards finding a new love when one of them, Tom (Oz Zehavi), begins to pursue him.

Director Eytan Fox’s films haven’t shied away from addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but compared to documentaries like “The Gatekeepers” and “The Law in These Parts,” they’ve been fairly inept at doing so. Fox sees Israeli politics through a gay lens — in “The Bubble,” he brought us the cinema’s first queer Palestinian suicide bomber, while also depicting the gay scene in Tel Aviv — but that doesn’t really shed any new light on the issue. Fortunately, “Yossi” sticks to affairs of the heart.

It’s not afraid to show just how brutal online dating can be or suggest that Yossi would probably get better results if he stopped pretending to be a younger, thinner version of himself. Fox’s depiction of Yossi’s sex life goes a long way towards explaining the character’s emotional reticence and his reluctance to be honest about his sexuality at work.

A lot has changed in Israel in the 10 years since “Yossi & Jagger”: its lovers would not have to be secretive now. “Yossi” shows a country becoming more accepting of gay culture, yet it also shows the potentially alienating and unpleasant side of that. The young men Yossi meets represent his country’s future, and he can only participate in their freedoms if he forces himself to stop wallowing in grief and loss. The film ends on a moving, achingly ambiguous note, with Yossi getting more emotionally mature but not yet completely out of the woods.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.