Eye For Film >> Movies >> Yossi (2012) Film Review
Reviewed by: Ali Hazzah
Eytan Fox's new feature, Yossi, which opened the World Narrative track at Tribeca 2012, is a spare movie, that, in a sense, presents a rather unusual view of the Israeli medical profession, one centered around the lonely adventures of a 34-year-old Tel Aviv pulmonary specialist.
It also depicts an Israel that shows, miraculously, a land in which the Palestinian population has suddenly gone AWOL.
Yossi (Ohad Knoller, who won the TFF 2003 Best Actor award for the same role in Yossi and Jagger) is a doctor who spends his nights watching porno on the internet, when not visiting sex chat rooms, in order to hook up with the likes of a buff, gay bar owner with oenological pretensions.
His best friend, Moti (Lior Ashenazi), is a coke-sniffing, sex-crazed, er, fiend, who's all busy dumping his poor, suffering wife (whom we never see or learn anything about), and doing the club thing with some hot chick he just met, bumping uglies with her in the men's toilet, with Yossi present, no less.
But, of course, Yossi is not interested in the hot chick.
For he's still nursing the hurt and pain of losing his secret gay lover from his days in the army, 10 years earlier, somewhere on the border of Lebanon.
This only becomes clear when this dead lover's mother, Varda (Orly Silbersatz Banai) walks into the hospital, quite by accident, and Yossi, after performing a routine pulmonary examination (she had a heart attack when Jagger was killed), gives her a ride back home, leaves, then decides some time later to return.
It is then that he reveals, to Varda, and her husband, finally, after all these long, sad, and Keren Ann-filled years, the aching truth about her son, the truth that dared not speak its name.
Or something like that.
Then again, this is Israel. Macho Israel. Where real men are all virile, in-your-face combat machines. Yet, a place, too, where attitudes, as we are to later find out, even among all those macho, soldier boys, have evolved.
Yossi, alas, is trapped in a time warp.
Meanwhile, Nina, a technician who has long, um, nursed the hots for Yossi, finally breaks down, and kisses him, as he is passed out on a hospital cot, and that is pretty much the last we see of Nina, but not before he clocks her with his elbow, as he wakes up with a start.
Yossi decides to take off to the Sinai. Along the way, he picks up four bumptious young Israeli soldiers who missed their bus and need to get to Eilat.
One of them, Tom (Oz Zehavi), turns out to be a little different, and it's no problem with the other three.
There's lots of good-natured clowning around in the car, and, at some point, Yossi catches Tom's eye in the rear view mirror.
Things happen, tentatively at first, then, soon enough, not that way at all.
I was sort of kidding earlier about Fox presenting an unflattering picture of the Israeli medical profession, and about Israel being presented here as a land without Arabs. This movie is not about doctors or Arabs.
It is about a gay man living in a country at a time when his sexual orientation could not be accepted by the army he fought in. And then his lover died, freezing them both in time.
If Tom can be comparatively open about his sexuality, it is only, as Yossi points out, up to the limits of his parents' front door, much as Yossi himself does not step out of the closet at work.
Fox strongly hints of ambiguities, given the way the final scenes unfold.
In the end, he could be telling us, paradise may simply be the past reimagined into a better present.Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2012