Directed by: Eytan Fox | 65 minutes | drama, war, romance | Actors: Ohad Knoller, Yehuda Levi, Assi Cohen, Aya Steinovitz, Hani Furstenberg, Sharon Raginiano, Yuval Semo, Yaniv Moyal, Hanan Savyon, Erez Kahana
After all those negative stories about Israel because of the war with the Palestinians, the Israeli film “Yossi & Jagger” is finally getting some good publicity for this country. We are dealing with a very poignant film without nationalist or ideological propaganda. Based on a true story, the film “Yossi & Jagger” shows a number of young people trying to survive in an impossible world. We follow a group of men and women in the Israeli army who should dance, study and love during this period of their lives. Instead, due to compulsory military service and the complicated situation in the region, they have to dedicate the best years of their lives to their country serving as soldiers to kill and to be killed.
Soldiers Yossi and Lior (the latter is nicknamed ‘Jagger’ because of his Mick Jagger musical style) share a love affair, but because of the macho image of the military and Israel’s not-done attitude, they keep quiet about this . However, Jagger gradually wants to admit his homosexuality and tries to persuade Yossi to leave the army with him. He wants to keep their relationship secret for a while, causing a conflict. The situation does not get any easier because the handsome soldier Yaeli is also in love with Jagger and wants to tell him this. But before she can even explain her love to him, everyone is sent to the front.
The film is clearly working towards a climax, but despite that, the ending is still very surprising. Since the story has been mapped out in just 65 minutes, it makes it possible to stay captivated from the beginning to the end. The only thing that is unclear at first is the location of the army base and who this army is in conflict with. On the other hand, this is not essential for the story and it can again be regarded as the strength of this film that no counterpart is mentioned. “Yossi & Jagger” is therefore poignant, but not politically charged and has a constant tension. The way of filming emphasizes this tension again because certain fragments use a small, separate video camera. This makes it seem as if you are on the spot as a spectator and is therefore more involved with the characters.
In “Yossi & Jagger”, the view that all Israel is in favor of war is dispelled. In fact, this film shows a clear anti-war view of the director Eytan Fox. Initially, he did not receive any support from the Israeli army. However, when it turned out that large groups of soldiers showed interest and watched the film together, the film was eventually screened on various army bases.
“Yossi & Jagger” received the Audience Award at the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Turin and at the Tribeca Film Festival (for independent films) in New York City, the Best Actor award went to lead actor Ohad Knoller.