Yes (2004)

Yes (2004)
Directed/Written: Sally Potter
Starring: Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Sam Neil, etc.
100 minutes

I definitely think Kevin, Mitchell, Penny and Grace would find this film worth seeing. I can see Penny and Grace liking it the most. I really liked this film for reasons I won’t reveal, as it was a surprise to me. This was such a refreshing experience. Did this film get any attention? I consider it a film that fell through the cracks. This film deserves more attention imo.

With most films that I don’t fully grasp, but sense substance underneath, I want to dig deeper to “figure out the film.” With this film, I’m pretty content at just enjoying it without the fully analysis–although I think repeated viewing and analysis would be rewarding. The film is ike reading a poem that just sounds good, even though you don’t fully understand it. This is an ambitious film and I’m not sure if Potter completely succeeds (although she may have), but it was a such an delightful experience watching the film.

On the surface the film deals with a woman in an estranged marriage who has an affair. But the director, Potter (who I was very impressed with), wants to explore important themes, which I won’t reveal. I like her use of the camera, editing and some of the music. But the dialogue is what really stands out. If you’re in the mood for a drama with art leanings, and something not entirely conventional, then check this film out.


Can iambic pentameter be used with contemporary language in a film? I think the answer is Yes! Wow, what a delight it was to hear verse in the dialogue; the acting was also first rate, which didn’t hurt. The verse is also quite good. Just for that alone, I really enjoyed the film. (I also liked the scenes where Potter used characters with accents and slangs and fit that into the verse. Show off!)

I also loved the filmmaking and the ambition of dealing with huge issues–global politics, God, life, relationships, etc. Again, I don’t know if Potter succeeds–I’ll have to analyze and think about the film more–but the verse and her guts, just made me enjoy watching this. I almost re-watched the film right after seeing it.


I checked out some comments from the metacritic sight and, strangely, I sympathesize with the comments from reviewers who gave the film lower ratings. Here are some:

Parse the philosophy behind the spill of words, though, and you’ll find intellectual jumble, junk. Better to nod to Yes as a drowsing chant than take it seriously as a statement of global concerns. Lisa Schwartzbaum–Entertainment Weekly

“The more serious Potter gets (there are several earnest soliloquies about dirt), the harder it is not to laugh.” –Kyle Smith New York Post

“Ultimately has nothing of any real depth or profundity to say, but a thousand self-consciously complex ways of saying it.” Scott Foundras Variety

“Yes is not just a movie, in other words, it’s a poem. A bad poem. There is no denying Ms. Potter’s skill at versifying – or for that matter, at composing clear, striking visual images – but her intricate, measured lines amount to doggerel, not art.” The New York Times Dana Stevens
I understand how the critics could say this (although I don’t entirely agree with everything they’re saying), but to me, you have to appreciate Potter’s talent–in writing and direction–and ambition. Does the film fully succeed? Perhaps not. Is it earnest and pretentious? Perhaps. But she’s really trying to make an interesting film and succeeds in doing that. What? Is writing good dialogue in iambic pentameter such a everyday skill? What about the actors who have to pull off reading those lines? Maybe I lack sophistication, but that’s a big deal for me and it was thrilling to hear. The images and Potter’s storytelling is very fresh and compelling, too. When you see a lot of films (as a lot of these critics), that has to count for something.

That’s why I liked this film so much, despite the fact that the philosophical, geopoltical and gender issues may be lacking. Films like that disappoint and/or annoy me, but talent, ambition and the thrill this film gave me made this an enjoyable experience, if not made for a super-great film.

4 Responses to “Yes (2004)”

  1. pen

    I need to see this film again and see if my opinions change. Right now, I would definitely recommend it to other Idiots. I think everyone will find something worthwhile in the film, even though they may not “enjoy” it so much. I wonder if upon a second viewing, the things that annoyed me the first time will still bother me, or if I will be more forgiving, after seeing the entire film and having a better understanding of the big picture, so to speak (insert rim shot here). Heh.

    “Yes!” is an ambitious film on many levels. In fact, one criticism may be that perhaps the Director (Potter) took on a bit too much to do justice to it all. Parts of this film reminded me of Denys Arcand’s films “Fall of the American Empire” (?) and Barbarian Invasions. Potter touches on some similar themes and criticisms, but Arcand’s films delve much deeper into that, while Potter uses that aspect to build upon her larger theme.

    I understand why Reid was so anxious to have us see this film. There is a lot to discuss: beyond the technical and stylistic aspect of the film, there are multiple themes and interesting commentary about the world we live in and our identity and how all that influences how we perceive and relate to one another. Yes, we Idiots could have quite a spirited discussion over this film. So, please go see it and we can talk about it…but not in public. Some of us, when we get excited, forget to use our indoor voices. Ahem. 😛

  2. Reid

    Kevin, don’t listen to her. You’re not that bad.


    Hmm, I never thought of Arcand (Fall of the American Empire), but maybe that’s because I didn’t care for the latter. I guess, I can some similiarities, but I don’t think I would have made the connection. What were the similarities you’re thinking of?

  3. pen

    American arrogance, male/female relationships, decadence and one’s place in the world and world order. Some of the kitchen conversations and the garage conversation in Yes! reminded me of similar conversations in the Arcand movies when they’re at the house drinking wine and when they’re at the hospital. Just vague memories, because it has been awhile.

    I liked those Arcand movies, btw.

  4. Reid

    I know you liked them. Decline was your “3 films” choice. I remember the themes being somewhat similar, but the treatment seems so different. The charge of prentiousness can be laid at the door of both films, though.

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