‘Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life’ Review: A Gay Porn Star Is Born


“Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life” has some sensational appeal: a documentary about the rise and fall of the eponymous Israeli gay porn superstar. But director Tomer Heymann finds distinctive insights into the typical narrative rhythms of fame and power – two mutable things that don’t exist in a vacuum for the film and Agassi himself. Heymann positions the concept of celebrity in striking detail, not only in the context of performance and gay culture, but also in the context of family intimacy.

Now retired, Agassi rose to fame after starring in the Lucas Entertainment gay porn movie “Men of Israel” in 2009, and Heymann documents the actor’s aggressive rise to notoriety. Despite her rising stardom, she Skypes her mother frequently from Berlin. He is caring and supportive even from a distance. Via the computer, she confirms the awards ceremony attire (harness, lace suspenders, heels). With it is where he pauses the desire to be sought and the desire to fulfill. (“Jonathan Agassi” is a nickname, a character after all.) On the contrary, he does not like to talk about his homophobic father, whom he refers to by his first name, who is not there. Heymann’s recapitulation of Agassi’s family dynamics in such detail facilitates the dialogue between the two parts of Agassi’s life: gay pornography and his home.

“Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life” achieves an impressive level of formal intimacy while keeping a critical distance from its subject, while keeping a close watch on personal moments without making interactions overly emotional. The film mostly avoids judgment. When Agassi is alone, Heymann catches the performer (about performance, desire) frantically oscillating between self-awareness and purity. And when things go wrong, your mother’s safety is there, waiting.

Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life
Not rated. English and Hebrew, with subtitles. Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes. In movie theaters.



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