By Don Simpson | May 21, 2013
Director: Eytan Fox
Writer: Itay Segal
Starring: Ohad Knoller, Oz Zehavi, Lior Ashkenazi, Orly Silbersatz, Ola Schur-Selektar, Meir Golan, Shlomi Ben Attar, Amir Jerassi, Raffi Tavor, Shlomo Sadan, Gil Desiano, Keren Ann, Bobbi Jean Smith
Poor Yossi (Ohad Knoller). Ten years after Yossi and Jagger, Yossi is now a 34-year-old heart doctor with a broken heart who has chosen to totally immerse himself in his work in a willful attempt to forget his past. Visibly depressed, Yossi rarely goes out, he doesn’t exercise. He turns down a piece of chocolate because he is watching his figure, but then he engulfs an overflowing plate of noodles. After the gut-wrenching conclusion of Yossi and Jagger, it is no surprise that Yossi is still reeling from Lior’s death.
Everyone wants Yossi to loosen up, to smile, to have fun, instead of being a grumpy “old” curmudgeon; but Yossi seems determined to avoid falling in love or even touch another human being, as if he wants Lior to be the last person he will ever hold. Even when Yossi does find a date online, it turns out to be self-destructive attempt to prove to himself that he will never find love again.
Yossi’s deep-seeded emotions boil to the surface when Lior’s mother (Orly Silbersatz) appears at the hospital for a yearly heart exam. She does not recognize Yossi, but he knows who she is. Once Yossi does open up to her, his motivations become clear; it was his and Lior’s plan to eventually come out to their families, so Yossi takes this opportunity to do just that. If anything, Yossi probably assumed that by admitting his affair with Lior it would ease his internal pain. Of course the conversation does not work out exactly how he had assumed it would.
Yossi finally takes a vacation where he meets a group of vivacious young soldiers. The smartest and most cultured of the soldiers, Tom (Oz Zehavi), is gay; and despite Yossi’s lack of self-confidence, it is apparent almost immediately that there is a mutual attraction. After over an hour of Yossi’s perpetual brooding, it is such a relief to finally watch him as he smiles and laughs. The glimmer in Yossi’s eyes reveals that he may not have given up on love and happiness after all.
Other than a few well-executed moments of expository dialogue that help to fill in the ten year timeline gap since Yossi and Jagger, most of Yossi is communicated by way of Ohad Knoller’s expressions and gestures. Director Eytan Fox develops a patient and subtle narrative, revealing an unwavering trust in Knoller to carry the emotional weight of the film in his eyes. Just watching Yossi’s eyes well up as he watches the magnificent Keren Ann perform classic Israeli songs is enough to make my own eyes moist.
Fox has made a career of contemplating gay life in Israel and Yossi allows him to compare two different generations of Israeli gays. Yossi represents an old perspective in which sexuality is something personal and secret, and coming out is a major right of passage. Tom, however, is not secretive at all; even his commanding officer knows that he is gay. For Tom, officially coming out no longer matters because no one really cares. Yossi has had his head in the sand for so long, he has not even noticed that the world has changed. He does not realize that it is okay to be gay.