Wednesday, April 05, 2006

#10 (Film in Review 2005)

Sally Potter's Yes (#10) is a glorious mish-mash mess of poetry, music and language, hypnotizingly sexy and soulful. Known primarily as the film composed in iambic pentameter, it is much more than a gimmicky exercise in writing (although the rhythms of Potter's words and the actors' delivery of them is a feat in itself). It is foremostly an examination of transculturation in the present-day world (read: "culture clash" is a term that I find distasteful). Potter argues that no one way of life can today exist in isolation, but must necessarily mutate and take on elements of other cultures to have any chance of growth. Joan Allen and Simon Abkarian, cast as "She" and "He", play lovers who originate from totally dissimiar backgrounds (she an upper-class white biologist, he a Lebanese immigrant working as a chef in a restaurant kitchen). Their affair, once propelled by lust and mutual fascination with one another, eventually sours once suspicions are formed on both sides. Shirley Henderson and Sam Neill also participate in the ensemble, as an expressive houseworker and the cold distant husband respectively. A commentary on divisions made along racial and national lines, Potter examines the issues of representation, globalization and identity in the current modern world. The film is also a study of womanhood, and Potter also carefully raises questions about body image, abortion rights and sexual politics. Lest one think the film is a polemic, it is worth mentioning that these ideas are merely hinted at, rather than explicitly stated. The screenplay manages to evoke a style of speech that may seem foreign initially, but ultimately conveys concepts that are very much a part of the rhetoric and worldview we are familiar with today. Having watching this and Potter's Orlando in close succession, I am excited to seek out the rest of this director's work.

5 comments:

jesse said...

I forgot about this one-- I really wanted to see it. It got a lot of negative reactions, but it sounds like the type of film that would appeal to me, and since you liked it I know there's hope.

And, of course, there's Joan Allen. Enough said.

Nick M. said...

Yeah, I basically had planned to post what jesse did.

Would you, personally, recommend this to me?

Ali said...

Jesse - It's definitely not your everyday romance, so the dismissal by critics was curious to me. I thought Potter's riskiness would find praise, but everyone just harped on the writing style. I mean, it deals with timely issues and maintains a steady if somewhat unconventional narrative. It's definitely worth a look, and as you say, it's Joan freaking Allen.

Nick - I really don't know. I think you will dislike the messy quality of the film (I fear seeing a "C+" in your signature soon), but then again, you (inexplicably) love 2046, so who knows? Give it a shot. Allen is fantastic in it (/broken record), so it's worth a rental right there.

Nick M. said...

You just love to take a shot at 2046 with every chance you get, don't you?

Shameful.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I wanted to see this but I blinked and missed it's theatrical showing. I like Sally Potter and Sam Neill and love Joan Allen and it's dialogue is in rhyme! I just await it's DVD release.