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Review: In 'Yossi,' a window opens in a closed-off life

February 07, 2013|By Robert Abele
  • A scene from "Yossi."
A scene from "Yossi." (Strand Releasing )

Ten years after Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox's "Yossi and Jagger," a tale of tragic romance between gay army soldiers stationed in Lebanon, comes a sweet, sad and short follow-up called "Yossi."

Now a heart doctor but still closeted, Yossi (Ohad Knoller, back in the role) lives in a kind of cloistered emotional limbo of unfulfilling Internet hookups and defensive postures toward attentive colleagues until the unexpected appearance of Jagger's mother (Orly Silbersatz) for a checkup awakens him toward opening up more.

When finally spurred to take a long-overdue solo vacation to seaside Eilat — the place he and Jagger always intended to go — he's drawn into a circle of young Israeli army officers. One of them, an impossibly handsome, openly gay soldier named Tom (Oz Zehavi), helps Yossi, to borrow a chick-lit phrase that aptly describes the movie's second half, get his groove back.

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Predictable if measured uplift aside, Fox keeps "Yossi" effortlessly affecting, graced with deadpan humor and a knowingness about lonely lives. Then again, would it be as enjoyable without Knoller?

His wary aura of compartmentalized happiness in the first film has aged into a powerfully magnetic thirtysomething melancholy. All the performances work here, but Knoller makes every little crack in Yossi's defenses smile-worthy.

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"Yossi." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes. At the Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino; Edwards University Town Center, Irvine.

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