Israel, like Singapore, has a conscript army. The difference is that Israeli soldiers see action. They face enemies who shoot back and aim explosives at them, so soldiering is serious business.
Like conscript armies everywhere, the men — and women — draw from a cross section of society. Yaniv, with his talent for cooking, hopes to open his own restaurant. Yaeli has her eye on Lior and discretely asks to be introduced to him, hoping to find true love. But Lior is not only gay, he is madly in love with his platoon commander.
Yossi and Jagger, a film made originally for television, but released theatrically to critical acclaim, may be only 64 minutes in length but it packs a punch. Director Eytan Fox and screenwriter Avner Bernheimer bring out all the key issues that surround young love and sexuality in uniform with a masterful deftness in its economy. The tension between affairs of the heart and the demands of the frontline, and that between the flaunting of heterosexual affairs and the need to hide one’s gayness, drives the story along to its heartbreaking conclusion.
Fine acting, good pacing, and a raw setting in a military outpost, create a story that feels awfully real, leaving the audience outside its comfort zone by the end of the film.
* * * * *
Yossi and Jagger is presented by courtesy of the Embassy of Israel and will be screened at Sinema (Mount Emily) as part of Indignation, Singapore’s Pride Season. Dialogue is in Hebrew, with English subtitles. Screening dates:
(a) Tuesday, 10 August, 7 pm, and
(b) Thursday, 12 August, 9 pm.
Tickets ($10) are available online from http://tix.sinema.sg/index.php
The Tuesday screening will be following by a post-film discussion with Ms Idit Abu, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel.
Highly recommended. Some others’ reviews after the break.
Some excerpts from a film review taken from the web:
Ever since seeing this sublime film last weekend, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. . . . Y&J is a so heartbreakingly beautiful. I’m not a big fan of handheld camera cinema verite BS, but there is a scene in which it really does work to great effect: Yossi & Jagger having a playful snowball fight, putting down their weapons, laughing like kids, having a blast.
There are just a few select locations, and a small ensemble of actors and that’s all that’s needed. The actors are so natural, you almost think it’s a documentary. Music is used to great effect, not giving us cues as to when we’re supposed to cry and when we’re supposed to laugh, but is instead perfectly weaved into the story fabric as when Jagger (so named because he has rock star charisma and looks) changes the words to a pop song and singing not in the rain, but the snow.
The two actresses and their male colleagues are all young (except the Colonel character, a big beefy macho guy) and very impressive. . . . an incredibly sexy film with looks and unspoken words that are more erotic than anything that’s coming out of Hollywood . . . . It’s beautiful, period.
This just has to be one of the most haunting movies I have ever seen. That it has taken an Israeli film crew, Israeli actors. with the backdrop of the sad history of conflict in that troubled region, makes the film even more stunning. . . .
This brief film packs a lot for a 65 minutes feature, but in spite of its short length, what comes out of the story feels real and we don’t begrudge the brevity in which it was presented. The story of Yossi and Jagger is presented without phony touches, that in the hands of another director, of worse yet, a Hollywood studio, would have been meaningless.
This is the story about two men who happened to be in love and the consequences of something that goes terribly wrong that ends their involvement. The two central characters stay with the viewer for a long time, which says a lot about Mr. Fox and the way he has presented his tale about how fate intervenes in the lives of these young men.
There are so many things right with Yossi & Yagger and so many things wrong. The right things: a great idea for a film, some very good acting, totally un-Hollywood production values, engaging characters and an emotionally charged plot. The wrong things: it is far too short to fulfill all of its promise, handed-held camera techniques(Dogma style) are too intrusive and too jarring, and complex characters are introduced and left dangling.As it is, this rough sketch of love in the military is worth the watch (I was strongly affected by the relationship between these two men) but it seems as if this is the director’s experimental cut: I wish I could see the finished product.
I’m still thinking about the movie two days later. What an excellent story with actors playing difficult roles. Also, great music by Ivri Leder. His album HaAnahim HaAcharim (The Other People) has the version of Bo (Come).
Yossi and Jagger however is a love story of two people caught in the middle of many forces – Careers, being out, military service, authority roles, and living day to day under international hostilities. Their homosexuality, though central to the story line, is portrayed as only one aspect of their incredibly complicated lives. In other words, they are portrayed as real people living their lives that is not consumed by their sexuality even as it overshadows everything they do.
The film also firmly establishes the two leads enough that it is able to spend time developing the other characters as real people . . .