yossi

Dir. Eytan Fox
(2013, Not Rated, 84 minutes)

Yossi is an uncommon kind of sequel I wish they’d make more often. It follows the 2002 romantic drama Yossi & Jagger, but is dissimilar from that film except for its title character, explored here in a new context. Most sequels, made to capitalize on the popularity of their predecessors, hew closely to the originals’ format. This, instead, follows a character of interest into a new period of his life.

I wasn’t particularly fond of Yossi & Jagger, a melodrama about a forbidden romance between gay Israeli soldiers that felt too much like Grey’s Anatomy on the battlefield. This film is better, subtler. It plays at times like a wish-fulfillment romance novel, but it’s told with greater depth of character by returning director Eytan Fox and new screenwriter Itay Segal.

Yossi (Ohad Knoller), ten years after his military service, is now a doctor. No longer the strapping young soldier he once was, he spends his nights alone watching pornography, or lying to online hookups about his age and appearance. He still hasn’t recovered from the death of his lover Jagger in the previous film, but when he cashes in his unused vacation days he comes across a group of currently-strapping young soldiers; when they miss their bus, he offers them a ride, and one of them (Oz Zehavi) takes an interest in him.

Unlike its predecessor, Yossi is more romantic comedy than star-crossed tragedy. Nevertheless, we can see where this is going, and the plot has few surprises, but as a portrait of a thirtysomething man out of touch with his body, his friends and coworkers, and really his entire adult life, it works, and it ends on a note of surprising and satisfying ambiguity. It may be interesting to revisit him again sometime, to find out where the next ten years will have taken him.

 

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