In 2002’s light but moving Yossi and Jagger, two gay Israeli soldiers engaged in a furtive affair that was a sort of open secret among their fellow officers but ended tragically with Jagger’s death on the battlefield. Ten years later, director Eytan Fox catches up with Yossi (once again played by Ohad Knoller), who has become a cardiologist, has let himself go and has squirreled back into the closet. Although he lives in vibrant Tel Aviv, Yossi leads a relatively lonely life, relying on online hook-ups for sex but mostly keeping to himself. Some wounds never fully heal, and Yossi seems destined to never get over the death of his former lover.
Then Jagger’s mother (Orly Silbersatz) comes into the hospital for a checkup, and her presence reawakens something in Yossi, who tells the woman and her husband of his affair with their late son (they don’t take the revelation well). But the confession somehow changes the nature of Yossi’s mourning for Jagger. Instead of serving as a form of emotional paralysis, it inspires him to tip his toe into the waters of life again.
Yossi, which is much more of a fairy tale than an exploration of homophobia in contemporary Israel, eventually finds its protagonist a new prince: The improbably handsome Tom (Oz Zehavi), who is in the military and openly gay, and no one seems to have a problem with it. He is the final push Yossi needs to reawaken his spirit and reopen his heart. Yes, the story is awfully precious and sweet. But Fox has a gentle touch that borders on the innocent, allowing you to go along with the more improbable elements in the story, and the movie’s hopeful nature gets to you. It’s a slight but uplifting charmer that serves as a feel-good bookend to the sadder first film.
Cast: Ohad Knoller, Lior Ashkenazi, Orly Silbersatz, Oz Zehavi, Ola Schur Selektar.
Director: Eytan Fox.
Screenwriter: Itay Segal.
Producers: Moshe Edry, Leon Edry, Eytan Fox.
A Strand Releasing release. Running time: 84 minutes. Sexual situations, adult themes. In Hebrew with English subtitles. In Miami-Dade only: Coral Gables Art Cinema.