Directed by Sally Potter
100 min., Rated R, June 2005
Sally Potter wrote and directed a new film, “Yes.” The few moviegoers who had seen her earlier film, “Orlando,” about a woman/man who lives for centuries, knew they weren’t likely to have an ordinary film experience. The Dallas critic gave it a “C” and said that Potter’s use of poetry for film dialogue made it all too heavy. That, and the newspaper’s emphasis on miscegenation between the two illicit lovers, probably caused people to miss the experience.
“Yes” isn’t for everyone, but it is for artists, lovers, dreamers and revolutionaries.
Diverse characters go through their range of emotions with little action and a lot of iambic pentameter (a style of poetry). Only one of the main speaking parts, a dying aunt designated “the last real communist,” understands what the story is all about. Several cleaning women, with peripheral parts, show that they have a pretty good idea.
“Yes” is an art experience about overcoming the gulfs between the dead and the living, the near and the far, the superstitious and the rational, the gulfs between people, between cultures, between classes, the gulfs between worlds, and the need for cleaning.
Fortunately, the audience understands the screenwriter’s intent after a fight sequence between the British scientist and her Middle Eastern lover. “Terrorist!” she calls him with pained scorn. “Imperialist!” he roars.
Could there possibly be a happy ending for lovers condemned to such ordinary and painful divisions? Perhaps, but only if they could find a place where divisions are allowed to blend and strengthen people, instead of tearing them apart. Cuba, perhaps? The aunt seems to think so.
Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Sam Neill and Shirley Henderson are fantastic! If she never works again, Allen will always be remembered in this role.
Potter’s poetic dialogue and filming are wondrous! The only sad thing about this marvelous film experience is that people may miss it. But then, maybe it wasn’t for them. “Yes” is for us!