The beautiful thing about pop culture is that everyone has their opinions and everyone is right. I think Forrest Gump is the worst Best Picture Oscar winner of all time, whereas you may love its celebration of lowered standards! See? We’re both right! I say this to prepare you for my review of 15 Years, the feature debut of Israeli writer/director Yuval Hadadi. I hated it with every fiber of my being. It triggered me. I may have rolled my eyes a few dozen times. I lost count. I may have temporarily died, but since I’m home alone, nobody can disprove it. Regardless, I was in pain watching this movie. Yet, it’s very handsomely made and features very handsome stars. So please, take my opinions here with a grain or two of salt. You may love it, you Forrest Gump-worshipping fool!
Yoav (OdedLeopold), a successful architect in his early 40s, lives with his late 30s lawyer partner Dan (Udi Persi) in their gorgeous Tel Aviv apartment. With its kitchen island and immaculate, dust-free sheen, I felt like I had popped into a gay Nancy Meyers movie. As their 15th anniversary approaches, their artist friend Alma (Ruti Asarsai) announces she’s pregnant. Yoav reacts badly to the news, while it starts Dan down a path of maybe wanting a child of his own.
Yoav has a lot of baggage which gets revealed slowly throughout the course of the film. He feels gay people who want kids are simply jumping on a trend. He deflects love from anyone who gets too close, and for some reason, his Belgian clients annoy the hell out of him. What some may describe as brooding and sexy, I found entitled, annoying, and spoiled. I mean, he has everything. A ton of friends who love him, a show-palace of a condo, a smoking hot boyfriend who wants to have sex all the time, well past the usual expiration date, and for crying out loud, Yoav fills out a pair of work pants better than anyone since Daniel Craig sauntered around that casino in his James Bond debut. What’s Yoav’s problem?
While we eventually come to understand that, a more apt question would be what’s my problem? OK, fine. I let this movie get to me. I’m single and have a very tough time getting someone to even show up for a date, let alone commit to a relationship. As hard as I work and save, I still live in a fairly dumpy apartment with no room for a kitchen island. Nobody has ever said they wanted to have a baby with me. Nobody ever flirted with me in bars. I may be suffering from HOMO FOMO and I’ll readily admit to it. When you’re as dead inside as I am, you just don’t care about the problems of the rich and gorgeous. I mean, he may have some deep-seated daddy issues, but is your BFFs pregnancy and your long-term partner’s wanting to raise a family such a terrible thing?
Additionally, every single person in this film is gorgeous; the best friend, the new, young love interest, the trick, the happy couples at Yoav and Dan’s dinner party. Apparently in Yoav’s world, you can only be fat if you’re pregnant, and even then, he’s not gonna celebrate. With such an awful guy at the center of the film, it’s difficult to empathize. Maybe the bubble of living in Tel Aviv really does make one blind to the more pressing issues facing the LGBTQ+ community in the Middle East.
Having said that, Hadadi and his cinematographer Yaniv Linton have taken a limited budget and produced a gorgeously shot film. It glides by, however tepidly, on a whoosh of stunningly framed images. All of the performances have bite and specificity, with Leopold carving out a striking presence with his bruised boxer look. Although it has an unexpected ending, the whole film has a dull, melodramatic tone to it which makes it feel heavier than the material deserves. But what do it know? If you also want for nothing, are surrounded by the most beautiful people on the planet, and can make a pair of khakis look sexy, then 15 Years is your jam. Remember, my opinion is right and so is yours…but mine may be just a little bit more right. Right? Of course right!
Glenn Gaylord’s 50 SHADES OF GAY SCALE: 15 Years gets a 50 out of 50. It’s a gay story about a gay relationship. They do gay things when they’re not endlessly fighting with each other. When they fight, however, it’s anything but gay. It’s a drag.
By Glenn Gaylord, Senior Film Critic
15 Years is available April 28th on DVD and VOD from Breaking Glass Pictures