Headed for Heartbreak
Israeli director Yuval Hadadi’s feature film debut “15 Years” is the compelling story of an outwardly successful gay couple in Tel Aviv who seem to have all that makes for a good life but who are nevertheless destined for heartbreak. Yet while the film is about a gay couple, it is actually about life— the choices and mistakes that we make, how we live and how we learn to either accept ourselves or not.
Yoav (Oded Leopold) and Dan (Udi Persi) are at home celebrating their 15th Anniversary with their closest friends. Yoav seems disturbed when the conversation turns to swapping stories about other couples’ newly acquired babies. He becomes even more upset when he learns that his best gal pal Alma (Ruti Asarsai) is also pregnant and that people assume that he is the donor.
Yoav does not like children and this is probably because of his own unhappy childhood. He will not go to visit his elderly father who is dying in nursing home. Yoav sees himself as an alpha male and usually nothing bothers him. He is used to controlling simply everything. When one of his major architect projects gets in trouble along wth the failure of his relationship at home, he is pushed over the edge even though we see this coming.
Yoav’s partner Dan is a community lawyer who sees that Yoav is unravelling and wants no help. The film looks at the characters accepting their sexuality and is also about the difficulties of adjusting as couple in contemporary life. What the two men face is not unlike what many couples have to deal with and not just because they are a gay couple.
Each of the three actors gives a fine performance and this is probably because the script develops the characters so well. Yuval Hadadi has made a film of which he can be proud.
I lived in Israel for many years and those years were very crucial to the acceptance of the LGBTQ community there. Even though Yoav and Dan have to deal with important issues, I was fascinated to see how far the gay community has come. But then again, I would not say that this is a gay film—it is a human film and all of us will find something to identify with. While watching Yoav, Dan and Alma attempt to find ways to deal with what they were facing, I was reminded of my own relationship when I lived in Israel. While we did not have to deal with the idea of having children, the pressures of society did not help us to establish a firm basis for a “marriage”. Like Yoav and Dan, we, after many years, decided to go our separate ways. The love we shared is still there but we are just not able to share it in ways that we wanted to.