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Review: Yossi

The film is at its finest as a catalogue of its eponymous character’s unspoken ache.

Photo: Strand Releasing

In Yossi, Eytan Fox’s sequel to Yossi & Jagger, Ohad Knoller’s Yossi is now a pudgy and lonely doctor still haunted by the loss of the love of his life, killed in combat 10 years before. When he’s not being excessively reserved at work to upkeep his closeted status, he’s steeped in a depressive tedium at home, eating ramen noodles, watching cheesy romantic porn, and cruising for men online. This isn’t the kind of cruising fueled by horniness and pragmatism, but a listless and defeatist kind that seems to anesthetize Yossi’s longing while vaguely entertaining the idea that someone like Jagger may walk into his life again.

When Yossi finally brings himself to meeting a guy from the Internet, it doesn’t go so well. He walks into the trick’s lavish loft quite gauchely, and waits for him in the living room with the lustful anticipation of a patient about to get an MRI. The trick, one of those perennially waxed professional gays who become irritated at anyone who dares to misunderstand the hooking-up protocol, promptly chastises Yossi for being too early for the appointment and having sent pictures that were three years old. He asks Yossi, “You don’t even work out, do you?”

A solemn chance encounter with Jagger’s mom (Orly Silbersatz) doesn’t go very well either, but gives us the film’s most memorable sequence. He knows who she is, but she doesn’t know him. We sense an unbearable urgency in Yossi’s pursuing her, as if he could speak Jagger into being again if only she would listen, and understand their story. When Yossi finally reveals the nature of his relationship to her dead son to Jagger’s parents, in a posthumous, or ghostly, coming out of sorts, it’s an interrupted closure to him, but for them it’s like an exhumation.

It’s another chance encounter that brings Yossi some sort of peace. He gives a ride to four soldiers on their way to a resort; the most handsome and also least moronic of the bunch, Tom (Oz Zehavi), is gay and catches Yossi’s attention for also being the only one to know who Mahler is. Yossi is too maimed by tragedy to risk pursing him, but Tom is young, vibrant, and unafraid, so they may have a chance. The film is at its finest as a catalogue of Yossi’s unspoken ache, less so when it begins to flirt with the clichés of the love story; it develops as a series of aborted searches of new beginnings for Yossi, but it never quite believes in a beginning that could actually heal his wounds. Tom’s vigor reads as dangerous naïveté, an enthusiasm ready to be trounced by time, next to Yossi’s vanquished demeanor. Knoller incorporates this hopelessness quite beautifully in the way he carries his heavy body, as though he’s been hoarding a pound for every word that’s gone unsaid these last 10 years.

Cast: Ohad Knoller, Oz Zehavi, Shlomo Sadan, Orly Silbersatz Director: Eytan Fox Screenwriter: Itay Segal Distributor: Strand Releasing Running Time: 84 min Rating: NR Year: 2012 Buy: Video

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