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Friday, 22 February 2013 01:00

'Yossi' rewards the time spent with him

'Yossi' rewards the time spent with him yossifilm.com
Written by Diane Carson
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  • Director: Eytan Fox
  • Dates: February 22-February 28, 2013

Sometimes just spending an hour twenty minutes with an appealing character makes for a fine cinematic experience. That's how I felt after watching "Yossi." The title identifies the central character, Dr. Yossi Guttman, a 34-year-old cardiologist in a Tel Aviv hospital who harbors secrets that have taken the joy out of his life.

Director Eytan Fox introduced Yossi ten years ago in "Yossi & Jagger," but enjoying this sequel does not depend on having seen the earlier chapter in Yossi's Israeli army life. Fox includes crucial plot details via brief flashbacks when Yossi encounters Jagger's mother for an echocardiogram. Without revealing any important events, I can say that the workaholic Yossi needs a break. In their own ways, a flirtatious nurse and a fellow doctor urge Dr. Guttman to live it up a little. After some unexpected encounters, Guttman is on his way to the Sinai with four soldiers.

Yossi fans will be pleased to know that Ohad Knoller plays him again with a strong, but decidedly unemotional presence. The film's minimalist style complements Knoller's controlled performance with its own unhurried restraint. I occasionally wanted a bit more energy, but soon found myself fascinated by and engaged with Yossi's emotional self-protection wrestling with his yearning for an honesty and openness that will free him. Keren Ann's music for the film and her appearance singing in it contribute another layer of commentary on Yossi and his involvement, or lack thereof, with others. Similarly, Guy Raz's superb cinematography uses interiors with drab colors early in the film that yield to brighter ones as Yossi's world opens up.

American audiences may know Eytan Fox from his wonderful 2004 film "Walk on Water." Whether acquainted with him already or not, "Yossi" is a pleasant way to learn about this accomplished director who calmly and intelligently presents a three-dimensional, interesting character. I hope he returns to Yossi's life again before long because Fox has made me feel I know and am connected to his life.

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