Reviewed by: The Dude

As much as people would like to believe that in a free society love could happen anywhere, this film explores just how idealistic the concept can be. With the resentment and prejudice between the Western and Muslim world becoming ever more apparent in our daily life, it is clear that we still have a long way to go.

"She" (Joan Allen) is an American scientist of Irish birth, keeping up appearances in an unhappy and unfaithful marriage with her English politician husband (Sam Neill) in London. Although she jets all over the world from conference to commission, it isn't until she comes across a Lebanese cook (Simon Abkarian) at a banquet at home that "She" and "He" discover a small escape from the relative exile of their lives.

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While she is a successful career woman in a beautifully sterilised home, he is a doctor, forced to leave his family in Beirut in order to survive alone, cooking in a kitchen full of racist innuendo and confrontation. In the bloom of their intimate relationship, they enjoy each other and each other's company, but, as with all relationships, it becomes apparent with the passing of time that their different outlooks and upbringings cannot easily be ignored.

The most striking feature of Yes is undoubtedly the language, which varies from rhyming couplets to iambic pentameter. While, during reflective moments, such as the ruminations of the maid (brilliantly acted by Shirley Henderson), this choice is beautiful in its colloquial delivery and insight, it does tend to distract during more heated exchanges, like a bad performance of Shakespeare. The choice of using internal monologues as voice-over also leans in the direction of the over dramatic at times, serving to detract from the conversation instead of drawing the viewer in.

The cinematography, often wonderfully shot and composed, again falters, like the delivery of dialogue, with regular slow motion intervals that look amateurish and contrived.

The topics addressed are real and demand to be taken seriously. The characters feel a definite sense of frustration when confronted with the contradictions of their life choices and the ultimate consequences that saying yes presents, which is the film's greatest strength.

In the final scene, the maid offers a hauntingly resonant opinion. No matter how much one scrubs away the dirt, or says no, what we are all left with is the indelibility of life and the directions taken when saying yes.

This is a worthwhile film to watch for its subject matter and its directorial choices, but it may fall short on continual satisfaction.

Reviewed on: 05 Aug 2005
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A lonely microbiologist embarks on passionate romance in verse with Middle Eastern cook.
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Read more Yes reviews:

The Exile *****
Chris ***1/2

Director: Sally Potter

Writer: Sally Potter

Starring: Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Sam Neill, Shirley Henderson, Sheila Hancock, Samantha Bond, Stephanie Leonidas, Gary Lewis, Wil Johnson, Raymond Waring

Year: 2004

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/US


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