Yossi & Jagger

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Yossi & Jagger

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During its first 15 minutes or so, Yossi & Jagger alternately suggests a wacky Israeli military sitcom and a gay porn film minus the hardcore sex. By the time the film ends, it's combined elements of an ensemble comedy, a drama, a war movie, a musical, a romance (complete with two interlocking love triangles), a message film, and a tragedy. That's a lot for any movie to deal with, let alone a film that barely squeaks past the 60-minute mark. Ambitious to a fault, Yossi & Jagger stars Yehuda Levi (who resembles a prettier Robert De Niro) and Ohad Knoller (who resembles a stockier Elden Henson) as lovers and soldiers for whom love and war are hopelessly intertwined. Levi wants the less communicative Knoller to open up and embrace their love, but their relationship is complicated by a beautiful female soldier (Aya Steinovitz) infatuated with Levi, as well as an angry male soldier infatuated with Steinovitz. Like 2001's The Holy Land, Yossi & Jagger provides an irreverent look at contemporary Israeli sexual mores, but where that film was rooted in the lives of three unforgettable characters, Yossi & Jagger allows its central love story to get lost amid too much plot and not enough character development. Director Eytan Fox wisely lets smartly chosen songs carry the emotions of many scenes, which suggests that his film might have worked better as a musical, where characterization can take a backseat to sweeping emotions that can only be adequately captured in song. A sprint when it should be a marathon, Yossi & Jagger crackles with promise, but much of it goes unrealized. Without the time or resources to develop its characters and overstuffed plot, the result feels like the Cliffs Notes for a longer, more satisfying film.