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Saturday, December 20, 2014

YOSSI (2012)

Israeli director Eytan Fox follows up on his gay-themed military story YOSSI & JAGGER/’02 with this wet noodle of a ten-years-after sequel. Now firmly buried in his hospital routine, Dr. Yossi sees to his patients, but has closed down any personal life. Rebuffing all stabs at socializing from friendly co-workers, Yossi goes out of his way to run an examination on his ex-lover’s mother, then winds up telling her (and her husband) what they never knew about their son. Info that’s hardly welcomed. So far in, the fine perfs & Fox’s fluid technique help overcome a pretty thin texture, but suddenly the film lurches into an updated travesty of Thomas Mann’s DEATH IN VENICE. (Just in case we miss the reference, Yossi’s got the paperback to hand and Mahler’s ‘Adagietto’ from the 5th Symphony on his car’s CD player.) It starts when Yossi helps four stranded Israeli soldiers get to a waterfront resort. (No, not the Lido.) One of the gang plays hunky Tadzio to Yossi’s chunky Aschenbach, but there’s neither explanation nor motivation for this budding relationship. Nor for any other in the pic, come to think of it. It’s all dramatic contrivance/convenience, piffle that makes less sense the more you think about it. The reverse that has Tadzio pursuing his Teddy Bear of an Aschenbach is particularly mystifying. (Daddy issues, no doubt, as he mentions that he’s not ‘out’ to his parents.) Fox has a fairly substantial rep on the ‘queer cinema’ circuit. Can his other films be quite this rotten?

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: There’s always Visconti’s DEATH IN VENICE/’71; but his lite modern take on its themes in the stunning, much maligned, CONVERSATION PIECE/’74 gets much closer to what Fox flubs here. Alas, an Italian language version has yet to show up Stateside and the English dub is a laughable atrocity. Wait.

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