At just over an hour, writer Avner Bernheimer and director Eytan Fox's gay barracks romance "Yossi & Jagger" feels like the entire season of an addictive television drama. A troop of Israeli soldiers are stationed at an outpost near the Lebanon border. There's an ambush in the offing, but so what? Two of them are in love. Yossi and Jagger (Ohad Knoller and Yehuda Levi) can be found sneaking off together for snowbound frolics, canoodling, and -- well, you can take it from there. (Naughty Jagger even opts to wear nothing beneath his one-piece parka.)
Their relationship is a sort of open secret that disguises well, like a knife sheathed in a boot. Yossi is the macho closet case, while Jagger, so nicknamed for his rockin' good looks, is the more comfortable, freer spirit, never missing an opportunity to lavish his lover with a lewd comment or a pop song. (Israeli super diva Rita provides the movie with its recurring theme song.) When their service term expires, Jagger wants Yossi to meet his parents, to embrace their love more publicly. But around the base Yossi is all business, prepping his tired men for an upcoming strike.
There's a close-quarters tension around whether the relationship will be outed. But that might be inherent to any story about two gay soldiers. Still, I wished for them to be caught so we could see what kind of dramatists Bernheimer and Fox are. Instead, they toss in light, situational high jinks to enrich the run time. Two female soldiers, Goldie (Hani Furstenberg) and Yaeli (Aya Koren), arrive to make the other soldiers drool. Yaeli, for some reason, is saddled with a big crush on Jagger, making it impossible for her to see that the long-suffering Ofir (Assi Cohen) is crazy about her.
The movie, which has had runs at gay and lesbian and Jewish film festivals, holds you despite its contrivances. The predictable climax, while dramatically "important," is almost moving. Nothing happens in "Yossi & Jagger" that you couldn't have seen coming toward you in a fog. There are coincidences, hurt feelings, and more -- but what the movie lacks in ambition, originality, and grit, it makes up for in pure feeling.
Wesley Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.