I don’t know how Yossi & Jagger wound up being such a boring film, but it is. I don’t know how you make a film about a camp of Israeli soldiers stationed on a snowy hill not far from the Israeli-Lebanese border seem interminable when its running time is a mere 65 minutes. Throw in the fact that the story centers on two soldiers who are carrying on a homosexual love affair and the film is still staid, meditative, and 55 minutes too long.
Just because Israeli director Eytan Fox sets up this controversial and potentially explosive human drama smack-dab in an unstable and unremittingly violent part of the world, it does not guarantee that it will be either a passionate or thought-provoking film. It merely plods along with a detached and cold eye and enough foreshadowing to spoil any tension that its emaciated plot attempts to rouse. Perhaps we’re at the end of the era where any film that deals with homosexuality is supposed to be interesting and brave strictly because of its subject matter.
Yossi & Jagger would have been boring if its love story had concerned two straights or two tranvestites or two octogenarian hermaphrodites. Yossi is a commander of a group of exhausted soldiers who are stationed on a desolate, snowy outcropping without much food or other amenities. Jagger is another commander at the same camp. We first discover that these guys most likely do not have pinups of Betty Grable above their bunks when they are out on a patrol, leading to a snowball fight between them and ultimately a “roll in the snow.” Jagger is the more outgoing and queenish of the pair, frustrated by his lover’s more closeted approach. Yossi seems just fine with keeping things camouflaged, which in turn makes Jagger question whether Yossi truly loves him. If Yossi did, wouldn’t he make his commitment more public, and make plans with Jagger to really and truly be a couple? Do you care? Well, no one else in the camp really seems to mind. Most of the soldiers seem to know what’s going on and are pretty accepting of it. So who gives a shit?
There is a female soldier who is in love with Jagger. She doesn’t know he’s gay. Great subplot. Goes nowhere. The troops prepare for a dangerous mission and it’s likely someone may not return. You telling me something may actually happen in this movie?
Nah, just another boring subplot that only exists to wrench a little unearned emotion out of the audience and provide the film with its faux-melancholic and eagerly anticipated ending.
In Hebrew with English subtitles. Through Thursday at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main, Royal Oak). Call 248-263-2111.
Dan DeMaggio writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.