I originally saw Yossi and Jagger at aGLIFF in 2003 and rented it a while back before I started writing movie reviews in the old glob. I rented it again with the intention of writing about it here.
Yossi and Jagger was produced for Israeli television but screened in theaters. It won two awards from the Israeli Television Academy. The 65-minute film went on to screen at numerous festivals internationally, where it picked up more awards along the way.
The story follows the various love triangles formed at a snowy outpost in Israel.
Yossi (Ohad Knoller), the commander of the outpost, is in a secret relationship with his first officer Lior (Yehuda Levi), nicknamed Jagger for his rock star demeanor.
Yossi’s superior, the Colonel (Sharon Raginiano), shows up unexpectedly with two women officers in tow. One of them, Yaeli (Aya Koren), wants to confess her love for Jagger, which doesn’t please Ophir, a soldier with an infatuation for Yaeli.
Ophir misinterprets Yaeli’s encounters with Jagger, while Jagger and Yossi contend with Yossi’s desire to keep their relationship secret.
But war intrudes before any of these entanglements can be unwound.
The hour-long running time guarantees a tightly-focused story — a secret relationship, a mission and a lot of misperception.
With the plot taut as it is, the film wonderfully explores the dynamics between its characters. The triangle between Jagger, Yaeli and Ophir gets a nice twist since one point on the triangle is ambivalent to the other two.
And oblivious as Jagger is to his effect on Yaeli and Ophir, there’s still more than enough room for he and Yossi to contend with their respective degrees of comfort in expressing their relationship.
It’s amazing all this nuance can be squeezed into a single hour.
The end of the movie is predictable, only because the reality of these characters’ surroundings can change with a single stray bullet.
Director Etyan Fox uses a lot of hand-held camera shots, which may annoy some viewers, but the feeling of claustrophobia from the cramped confines of the outpost is nicely captured by such techniques.
The DVD doesn’t have very many special features. The movie is subtitled in English, which can’t be turned off if you’re comfortable with your Hebrew. And the only bonus material is a video of Levi singing the movie’s title song.
Still, Yossi and Jagger is an engaging film, a simple story with a lot of depth.