YOSSI & JAGGER

NR

-By David Noh


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Based on a true story, Yossi & Jagger is the love story of two male officers in the Israeli Army, Yossi (Ohad Knoller) and Jagger (Yehuda Levi), stationed together at a remote outpost. Jagger is the younger and more gregarious of the two, with his love of pop music and unrestrained physical affection for Yossi. Yossi, his superior officer, is far more circumspect, always stressing the necessity of their being clandestine together, which chafes his lover.

Director Eytan Fox's real achievement is the realistic atmosphere he sets up: For all the raucous bonhomie and soul-withering military caste system, you believe these are real soldiers in real danger at all times. The gallows humor and inevitable horniness which arise, not only between the two main characters, but among the other men and women in their platoon is mordant and utterly convincing. Fox has cast his film superbly, with a range of highly attractive young performers who behave with admirable naturalism and easy charm. These are likeable people in the truest sense of the word, so any death is that much more affecting.

For gays, who have never had a big wartime movie romance like A Farewell to Arms or Le Diable au corps, this film, however short, more than fits the bill. A scene of the lovers, tumbling in the snow, just out of sight range of their fellow soldiers, has the thrill and danger of first, real love. Even their bickering is fueled by their innate, unfathomable affection for each other. Levi manages to convey impressive layers of charisma and complexity, as his innate extrovert's passion is constantly frustrated by his situation. Knoller, with the thick, wolfish beauty of the young Oliver Reed, admirably projects both the macho authority and inner doubt which consume Yossi every day of his life. His final scene, with Jagger's family, is perhaps the most moving in any film this year.

-David Noh


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