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With: Yehuda Levi, Ohad Knoller, Aya Steinovitz, Hani Furstenberg
Written by: Avner Bernheimer
Directed by: Eytan Fox
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Language: Hebrew with English subtitles
Running Time: 71
Date: 08/01/2002
IMDB

Yossi & Jagger (2003)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Final Exams

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A group of young men and women fall in love, get jealous, sneak off to make love, party, dance and joke around. This could easily be a recipe for a teen romance movie or an Animal House-type college romp, but for the fact that we're looking at members of the Israeli Defense Force. Born into war, these kids view their military service almost like high school. They blankly go through their duties, more interested in sex and pop music and food. They're exhausted, stuck near the Lebanese border in the freezing cold -- and their refrigerators have conked out.

Commander Yossi (Ohad Knoller) goes on a mission with his second-in-command Jagger (Yehuda Levi) -- so nicknamed for his rock star qualities -- and as soon as they're out of sight, they drop in the snow for a quick kiss and cuddle. The charismatic Jagger wants to announce their affair to the world, but since Yossi longs for an army career the two men keep their passion a secret. A beautiful female soldier, Yaeli (Aya Steinovitz), messes things up further. Her crush on Jagger -- and another soldier's subsequent crush on her -- causes something of a nasty love quadrangle among the barracks.

Shot on Digital Video, Yossi & Jagger runs about 70 minutes; writer Avner Berenheimer and director Eytan Fox do a remarkable job of cramming genuine emotional pangs in among the film's fleeting moments, even if the plot relies on an old war movie chestnut for its climax. The enemy army never even rears its ugly head; it doesn't need to. Yossi & Jagger has already glimpsed the real enemy, and it is our own nature. Even Yaeli's blond friend Goldie (Hani Furstenberg), who is only out for a good time, gets her heart trampled on. No warhead packs nearly as much punch.

"It's like we're in an American movie!" observes Jagger at one point. But thank goodness they�re not. The economic filmmaking and punchy writing make Yossi & Jagger feel like an old Edgar G. Ulmer or Samuel Fuller "B" picture, bursting with vitality and mercifully lacking in grand pretensions about the nature of man and war.

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