4 April 2014

Bradford International Film Festival: Yes (2004)

Romance, Drama
Rating: 15
3rd April 2014
Bradford International Film Festival
Sally Potter
Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Sam Neill, Shirley Henderson, Stephanie Leonidas

This is the second time I have watched Sally Potter’s Yes, the first being quite some time ago, and I am still unsure how I feel about it. The film concerns itself with the love affair between ‘She’ (Joan Allen), an Irish-American scientist whose marriage to an emotionally distant politician (Sam Neill) is failing, and ‘He’ (Simon Abkarian), a Lebanese surgeon now working in London as a cook. Working on impulse, Potter wrote the film in response to 9/11. She wanted to build a bridge between the east and the west. And Yes was rightly praised for its rounded and sympathetic portrayal of a middle eastern character. With the film’s entire dialogue spoken in iambic pentameter, a style that gives the film a stream of conscience quality reminiscent of James Joyce (cited as an inspiration by Potter), the film fits quite a lot into its running time, tackling gender, racial, religious, and social politics. My issue with the film arises in the sometimes clich├ęd and stereotyped responses of the films characters, but perhaps this is a deliberate construct on the director’s part, assigning and assuming roles in the same way as the media in an attempt to criticise that bias. But, further to this, the film too often only briefly touches on other issues, such as Grace’s (Stephanie Leonidas) eating disorder which is not given much screen time at all, leaving me wondering why it was included at all. There is a lot to admire in Yes but maybe the film is too ambitious for its modest scale.


Shane James

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