Screen Savor: Holding Back the Years

15 Years movie. Photo via YouTube.

Yoav (Oded Leopold), the main character in Yuval Hadadi’s “15 Years” (Breaking Glass) is one of the most unpleasant characters you will have seen onscreen this year. Forewarned is forearmed.

A macho, egotistical 42-year-old narcissistic architect (is there any other kind?), Yoav wears his ugly emotions on his sleeve, even when he isn’t wearing sleeves (which is most of the time). More obsessed with fitness than he is with Dan (Udi Persi), his adorable and sweet 38-year-old lover of 15 years. The envy of all of their friends, Yoav and Dan have managed to successfully navigate the (open) relationship waters.

Yoav’s recurring dreams, in which he’s running (of course) and then encounters an inescapably homeless man, are emblematic of the way he avoids facing things that upset him, such as aging or visiting his dying father in the nursing home or a colonoscopy (he lost his mother to colon cancer).

But of all the things that set Yoav off, it’s the people around him having babies. Whether it’s gay contemporary Gur (Dan Mor) and his much younger lover Eldad (Or Asher) and their daughter Liat, or Alma (Ruti Asarsai, his best friend since grade school who is a successful visual artist. When Alma announces her pregnancy at her gallery opening (featuring photos of Yoav as her model), it sends Yoav off the deep end.

In no time at all, he’s sabotaging everything. His work life hits the skids and he loses a major client and project. At a dinner party celebrating Yoav and Dan’s 15th anniversary, he insults all his guests committing social suicide in one fell swoop.

Neither Dan nor Alma are safe from Yoav’s wrath either. After seeing Dan talking to a lesbian couple and their baby at Alma’s opening, Yoav’s hackles are raised. Additionally, being taken by surprise by Alma’s pregnancy announcement only adds insult to injury. Yoav fights with Alma, completely shutting her out. After once again letting Dan know where he stands on the idea of fatherhood (it’s a non-starter), he moves out of the apartment they share.

The break-up, which goes on for at least six months, is actually good for Dan. He meets Evyatar (Tamir Ginsburg), who is definitely interested in pursuing something with him. Meanwhile, Yoav, who is given the iciest of cold shoulders by Gur when they run into each other on the street, continues his downward spiral, even unsuccessfully attempting suicide.

For some reason, Alma and Dan refuse to give up on Yoav. Alma goes to his apartment and confronts Yoav and they both have a good cry. Dan, on the other hand cooks dinner for Yoav, which leads to the pair reuniting. But is it only for one night or more than that?

Hadadi, who wrote the screenplay as well as directed, has created an impressive feature-length debut, proving that queer Israeli cinema is not a fluke. Eytan Fox (“The Bubble”, “Yossi & Jagger”, and the forthcoming “Sublet”), reigning champ of the genre, would be wise to make room for more company.

Rating: B


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