As a rule of thumb, I’ll be honest, I tend to steer clear of gay-themed movies. There are some good ones out there, but most have little to value in terms of story or acting. However, every so often, something truly legitimate does come along. Granted, it’s been awhile since this movie’s 2002 release date, but it remains as compelling, emotionally complex, and compelling as the day it was made.
It centers on two Israeli army officers who love one another, but being male, they decide to keep their relationship secret from the others. However, matters are complicated when a young female officer arrives at the base and sets her eyes on Jagger. Honestly, when detailing the plot, it sounds more comical than anything else, but to be sude Yossi and Jagger is mined for all of its dramatic potential.
One instance is the setting itself, within a base station in Lebanon. It creates a perfect setting for a sense of despair and also a sense of longing. It’s easy to see why Jagger wants more out of Yossi, certainly more than the life that the two lead at the beginning of the film. Still, it’s interesting to see it from this perspective because, at least as far as I can tell, it’s okay to be openly gay and serve in the Israeli army. Military restrictions on gays openly serving were lifted in 1993, which adds a completely different dimension to the film. Yossi and Jagger hiding their affections from one another isn’t a legal issue, as most folks in the US can attest to, but rather, it seems to be a personal choice. There’s no telling what the ideas towards openly gay members of the Israeli army are, which might explain their fear, but it’s more of a social issue than it is a legal issue, as is the case here in the US.
There are many more examples of Yossi and Jagger‘s dramatic potential being fully realized as the film progresses. What is perhaps most chocking about this is the film’s running time. At a mere 67 minutes, a running time so short that it was never granted a US theatrical release outside of the festival circuit, it manages to flesh out the reality of the situation. It’s running time is just the perfect length to emotionally engage an audience, while also using it’s a short running time to its own advantage.
See, one of the most powerful elements of the film is its ending. Without giving it away, it ends when it is least expected with an emotionally devastating result. This sort of “shock and awe” approach to a beautifully portrayed, emotionally in-depth romance can be either be done well or it can come across as hackneyed or tired. Yossi and Jagger ends with a tragic ending that one can see from a mile away, but it doesn’t detract from its emotional resonance, even in repeat viewings.