Yossi & Jagger (2002)

Genres - Romance, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Romance, Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Release Date - Sep 24, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 71 min.  |   Countries - Israel   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Josh Ralske

Eytan Fox's Yossi and Jagger is an achingly tender and sweet-souled evocation of young love on the precipice of doom. Fox is aided in no small measure by his attractive and talented cast, particularly by Ohad Knoller's strong jawed performance as the seemingly typically macho Israeli officer, Yossi, and the lovely Aya Koren's turn as the naively romantic Yaeli. Avner Bernheimer's script surprisingly avoids any overt politicizing in its straightforward and engagingly naturalistic treatment of a gay love affair between two IDF commanders. The film's point-of-view is inherently political, of course, but the screenplay manages to make its points while remaining true to the well-differentiated characters and the tense situation. The sexual politics, also handled with subtlety for the most part, are at the fore. The film explores the carefully navigated intimacies of the closeted gay relationship, and also how strong intelligent women try to maintain their sovereignty in such a male-dominated environment. While the story is poignant and touching, what's perhaps most surprising about Fox's film is how light and wryly amusing it is. As in other wartime comedies (M.A.S.H comes to mind) there's an undercurrent of bitterness to the humor, but what shines through is the essential humanity of these characters, who, despite their differences, share the feeling of being someplace they'd rather not be.