Celebrating 15 years together Yoav (Oded Leopold) and his husband Dan (Udi Persi) seemingly have a perfect relationship. One night they attend an event at a gallery operated by their close friend Alma (Ruti Asarsai) and she announces that she’s pregnant. That revelation throws a spanner into the middle of Yoav and Dan’s relationship as Dan is keen for them to start a family of their own but Yoav is not. While Dan continues to press the topic, Yoav begins to distance himself from him and is sent into a tailspin.
15 Years is the feature film debut from Yuval Hadadi and it explores a topic that isn’t often seen in LGBTQ cinema. This film isn’t a light and fluffy romantic comedy, nor is it a steamy porn-lite experience either. Instead it dives into what happens when a same sex couple has been together for a long period of time and their needs and wants change. Dan is happy for Alma and her announcement spurs him on to create a family of his own buy Yoav reacts with anger and disdain. Not only does he not want to have children of his own, he also doesn’t want to show any happiness for his friend either.
At the heart of 15 Years is a discussion about what society expects from gay men and what they expect from themselves. Of the two men Dan is the younger so it makes sense that he’s the more progressive. In an age where same sex marriage is legal, he wants all of the bells and whistles that heterosexual married couples are afforded. Yoav however, tries to cling on to the carefree aspect of being a gay man, taking advantage of his open marriage situation and refusing to be tied down by responsibility.
What’s interesting about 15 Years is that even though the two central characters have been together for a long time, it’s clear they haven’t been able to communicate very well. Rather than tackle, or even discuss, their differing needs they’ve simply just ignored them. As anyone is any relationship knows, that road leads only to disaster. As Yoav becomes increasingly more angry and borders on unhinged, as a hook-up with an Israeli soldier shows, Dan goes in search of the life he wants that Yoav isn’t prepared to give him.
Oded Leopold as Yoav is a brooding presence on the screen. At times he’s actually pretty menacing and the edge he brings is a little scary. Yoav is clearly a character with a lot of baggage and Leopold does a fantastic job of conveying that through his performance. Udi Persi gives a more vulnerable performance and is definitely the more sympathetic of the characters as Dan. You feel his frustration as Yoav pushes him away.
15 Years is an interesting exploration of what it means to be a gay man in the modern age. Same sex couples have more choices now than they’ve ever had before and the debate over whether same sex marriage is an attempt to be heteronormative is one that still rages. What Yuval Hadadi does here is show two differing views and he leaves it up to the viewer to decide which they think is right.
Cast: Oded Leopold, Udi Persi, Ruti Asarsai Director: Yuval Hadadi Writer: Yuval Hadadi Certificate: Unrated Duration: 89 mins Released by: Breaking Glass Pictures Release date: 28th April 2020