Yossi Review

Film Still
  • Yossi film still


The difficulties of being a gay Israeli surgeon are sensitively portrayed in Eytan Fox's belated follow-up to 2002's Yossi & Jagger.

Constantly conflicted and sensitive to a tee, grizzled and slightly tubby heart surgeon Yossi (Ohad Knoller) spends his waking hours worrying about love and sex. Secretly gay, but looking to expand his sexual horizons in his private hours, he prowls internet chat rooms looking for action, far too modest to post a photo of himself lest a potential date rebuff him for purely superficial reasons. And that's the tall and short of it.

Eytan Fox's film, a belated follow-up to his 2002 work, Yossi & Jagger, is a slower-than-slow burn character study which herds together a series of awkward social situations and observes how Yossi deals with them. The fact that his homosexuality is not know to his colleagues is the cause of much of the psychological upset, as one young nurse steals a kiss while he's sleeping, while one of his male colleagues forces him into an awkward three-way clinch in the toilet of club. He squirms, and so do we.

Even though very little happens and there's no palpable narrative drive, it makes for surprisingly compulsive viewing, not least down to Knoller's hangdog central performance which keeps the teary-eyed melodramatics tightly locked away. You could almost imagine this material working as a TV show, with each vignette working as a separate episode which slowly and steadily adds colour and depth to the central character – kinda like Mad Men but with gay Israeli surgeons?

While Fox is always mindful of retaining the emotional honesty in each situation, he's sometimes a little slapdash when it comes to fleshing out the supporting cast. Yossi gets all the love, attention and fine character shades, while those in the background too often come off as single-note caricatures who are there to make Yossi feel bad. But this works, and even though it might seem like an easy film to pigeonhole as a gay issues drama, there's more of a universal reach to it concerning the difficulties of coming to terms with your own body.

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