'Yossi' catches up with sad-sack gay Israeli
Because it touched that chord, director Eytan Fox decided to make a follow-up film, to check in with the surviving lead character from the movie a decade later, the way Richard Linklater followed "Before Sunrise" with "Before Sunset."
"Yossi" is that check-in. Ten years on, former soldier Yossi (played again by Ohad Knoller) is now a cardiologist.
An unhappy cardiologist. He slumps through his workaholic routine at a Tel Aviv hospital, refusing the suggestion he take a vacation and declining the social invitations of his colleagues.
The film is content to play out in episodic form. We watch as Yossi meets an online dating partner, who is outspokenly disappointed that Yossi looks heavier and older than the photo he posted online.
Yossi also meets the parents of his dead lover Jagger, who are uncomfortable at discussing the sexual orientation of their closeted son. This episode does end with a nicely bittersweet, and wordless, postscript.
The last third takes place when Yossi finally gets out of town for a road trip and meets a group of soldiers who invite him to hang out for a while. This thread follows a predictable path, though not unpleasant to witness, especially since by this time you're rooting for something good to happen to sad-sack Yossi.
Anchored by the morose performance by Ohad Knoller, who has presumably gained a few pounds in order to play the role again, "Yossi" has a good-hearted attitude and doesn't wear out its welcome at 84 minutes.
You don't have to have seen "Yossi & Jagger" to understand the movie, although that would add some depth to the grief that Yossi is experiencing here. But everything else is explained in the course of the story.
And the film gets extra credit for its final moments, which hit exactly the right note of "What next?" for the characters. "Before Sunset" did a similar thing at the end, and if this movie is imitating that one, in this case it works.
"Yossi" (2½ stars)
A follow-up to the 2002 film "Yossi & Jagger," which chronicled the love story between two men in the Israeli military. Here we pick up Yossi's story a decade later, an episodic tale of a morose gay doctor in Tel Aviv, who finally takes a much-needed road trip to shake things up. In Hebrew, with English subtitles.
Not rated: Probably R for nudity.
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