Made for an astonishing $200,000, this daring, ultimately heartbreaking drama from director Eytan Fox struck a chord in its native Israel and even won the begrudging respect of Israeli soldiers who originally scorned the film. For while it offers a sensitive portrayal of both the dangers and day-to-day tedium of life in the Israeli army, it's subject, drawn from a real-life incident, remains controversial: the secret gay love affair between Jagger (Yehuda Levi), a handsome young soldier, and Yossi (Ohad Knoller), his commanding officer. Both are stationed in a remote military outpost somewhere in the frozen desert close to the Israel-Lebanon border, and their affair is confined to those rare moments when they can slip away from the camp. Yossi is a gruff, typically macho soldier, while Jagger is something of Billy Budd character: He's beautiful, well-liked and has inadvertently become the object of another grunt's intense jealousy. Ofir (Assi Cohen) is in love with Yaeli (Aya Koren), a pretty young soldier, but his feelings are unrequited; she's in love with Jagger, and is just waiting for the right moment to ask him out. Neither Ofir nor Yaeli know that Jagger is gay like the rest of the camp, they assumes Jagger and Yossi are just close friends and Ofir deeply resents the handsome soldier. Jagger and Yossi, meanwhile, are having troubles of their own. Jagger, who's more comfortable with his sexuality, will be leaving the army soon and wants Yossi to leave with him, meet his parents and settle down together. Yossi, however, is far more conscious of maintaining a masculine façade, and has no intention of changing; he tells Jagger he can either learn to live with it or leave. The otherwise dull calm of camp life is interrupted when the Colonel (Sharon Regniano), arrives with the news that enemy forces will attempt to infiltrate the line that night, and orders Yossi to organize an ambush a surprise maneuver that will have sudden and tragic consequences. The film captures the boredom felt by many Israeli youths who compelled to serve a boredom that's broken only by the arrival of female recruits and the occasional mission as well as the casual homophobia that keeps soldiers like Yossi and Jagger deep in the closet. But rather than simply decrying army policy regarding gays in the military, Fox offers a parable that demonstrates the depths of the military's hypocrisy and the lingering tragedy of a love that remains hidden away.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
- Review: Made for an astonishing $200,000, this daring, ultimately heartbreaking drama from director Eytan Fox struck a chord in its native Israel and even won the begrudging respect of Israeli soldiers who originally scorned the film. For while it offers a sensiti… (more)