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Passion has no boundaries. A woman (Joan Allen), feeling betrayed by her husband (Sam Neill), turns to a man from a world away (Simon Abkarian) to fulfill her deepest desires. Their sensuous affairtakes them on a tumultuous journey across continents and cultures that is seen through the eyes of her maid (Shirley Henderson). YES, a lyrical love story directed by Sally Potter (The Man Who Cried, The Tango Lesson, Orlando), will arouse your emotions and capture your heart long after the last frame fades.
- Featurette: Finding Scene 54
- Photo gallery
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I saw it just today and I confess,
That having had today four teeth removed
I spent the day with films and never moved.
Of all the shows I saw, this was the best,
Though if you're (rightly) loath to be impressed
By my opinions, drugged-up and fatigued,
I've reasons that I thought you'd be intrigued:
The dialogue, which flows like seven seas,
Is served in rhyming couplets, much like these,
With iambs counting five in every line.
Delivering the lines, it sounds divine:
The actors speak like poets, to a word;
Pedantic sing-song speech is never heard.
The themes it treats are numerous and strange-
There's death and sex and carpe-diem change-
But love is at the center of the tale:
The confidence that passion can prevail,
The perfect beauty of the spoken word,
The conflict of who will and won't be heard,
And silent cleaning girls who, while they cleanse
Send piercing gazes through the camera lens
(Including one whose speech bookends the show,
Whom Moaning Myrtle's Potter fans will know).
In short: O fans of pentametric verse!
All films, compared with this, seem much the worse.
Its muselike powers I can answer to;
It moved me to perhaps move all of you
To see a movie willing to be art,
To thrill the ear, illuminate the heart.
And does it, in its goal, meet with success?
My answer is, of course, a fervent Yes.
She (Joan Allen) is a research scientist, married to an icy politician, Anthony (Sam Neill), who only seems to find any sort of emotional release in the blues. When we first meet them, they're off to a dinner party, all very formal, and he warns her not to make a scene. Once there, She wanders into the dining room, where a very elegant mideastern man in a tuxedo (Simon Abkarian) has a passing conversation with her.
It's clear enough that they are both interested in each other, enough to where She hands Him her business card on the stairs. A phone call, a meeting, and soon, enough, the interest and conversation soon lands them both in bed together. It's a slow, tumultuous affair, lasting from spring blossoms, to the Christmas season.
Others, from His co-workers in the restaurant where he is a chef, and Her family and friends, suspect that something is up, but no one can quite put a finger on it. His coworkers engage in the nature of God and religion and of course, women, over dirty pots and dishes, and she goes running and out and about with her sister Kate (Samantha Bond) and her niece.
Her world is the sparse, sterile one of the London flat, all whites and bare walls, crisp white couches and linens, while His is full of colour and textures. And She, under his careful touch and words, slowly begins to bloom.
But things start to unravel, first for Him, when an argument with a fellow employee results in a drawn knife, and for Her, when her husband can't even summon up the guts to engage in an verbal fight with her. And that animosity expands to the He and She, with her being drawn away to a death in her birthplace of Belfast, and he runs to his homeland of Beruit.
No, not everyone is going to like this one. The themes are very adult, it's mostly a plotless film about two people who find each other, lose one another and then come again full circle. Everyone in this one are extremely lonely, each one existing in their own little microcosm, and rarely can see beyond themselves if at all.
In fact, the only ones who seem to get what things are really about are the various charwomen in the film, especially the one who cleans She and Anthony's immaculatte London flat (Shirley Henderson), who whispers up commentary and secrets as she gazes directly at the viewer. All of the cleaning women in this film, who silently push about their brooms and mops and brushes, seem to be saying can you believe these fools?
And frankly, that's where the film starts to disintegrate. While it's composed of beautiful cinematography and images, the dialogue is of rather insipid poetry -- nice, but rarely inspiring -- there are times when it is delivered in such muddled sound that I had to really crank up the volume to hear, or just guess at what was being said.
That's a big problem. Too, there isn't a plot beyond of He and She's encounters, and the unraveling of their lives until they have to make choices. Sadly, the film only has subtitles in French, so I couldn't even resort to using the subtitles to figure out the story. Another problem was that I was left wondering if the story was about discrimmination and the question of terrorism through His eyes, or her general alienation to everything for Her. Secondary characters appear, give soloquies, then vanish into the background, and don't do much except to spread more confusion in their wake.
Sadly, there really ought to be more on the DVD to help the viewer along. The only audio track is in English, and the only subtitles are in French; there is a photo gallery of images in the film, and a little featurette on the making of the pivotal scene in the film, where the relationship shatters in the face of reality. Nice, but there could have been much more, what with the level of DVD technology these days.
Sally Potter both directed and wrote the script for this one, and while I really admire her courage in seeing her vision through to the end, it's a murky one at best, and a snoozer at worst. Not for everyone, but if you have the patience to sit through it to the end, you might find it an interesting 'slice of life' film.
Recommended, with three and half stars rounded up to four.
More than a love story, Writer/Director, Sally Potter brilliantly shot this film in 6 countries in over one month. The subtle narration is perfect, multiple topics compelling, characters excellent (mature, and visually, tastefully appealing), cinematography splendid, and the screenwriter's poetry is absolutely charming!
YES is a must-see...perhaps watch more than once for maximum appreciation.
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But no - they weren't there.
"Sally Potter's "Yes" is a movie unlike any other I have seen or heard.Read more