at 12:52, 8 Jun 2008
|A refreshing depiction of Middle Eastern men
I watched 'Yes' last night on DVD. The DVD was sent to me by my father living in Beirut. I had never heard of the film before. It must have received very little in the way of publicity when it was shown in Britain. Certainly nowhere near as much as it deserves.
As a playwright of Iraqi origin, two things impressed me most about it. First, the boldly different portrait of an Arabic man. The unnamed ‘he’ is not a terrorist, religious fanatic or wife beater. He falls in love with an American/Irish woman who desperately needs someone to love her and all politics is cleverly (and realistically in my experience) deferred to later in their relationship.
The second impressive thing about the film is its language. It is written almost entirely in rhymed verse. This could have made the film extremely clunky and unrealistic but it’s to Potter’s credit that she deftly managed to avoid these pitfalls. She was very wise to instruct her actors not to go into ‘Shakespearian mode’ and to just let the text flow naturally.
If I have one minor reservation about the film it is when it touches on the subject of science vs. God. That strand of the story seemed a little thin and I would question whether it was truly needed. Still, it was fun to watch one of the labs where I once worked on film.
It is a scandal that such a beautifully made film with first class performances from the entire cast is not better known. Sally Potter in both Orlando and Yes (the two films of hers I‘ve seen so far though I am planning to see many more) seems to borrow the best from American and European cinema and blend it in a poetic style of her own that always manages to avoid being pretentious or self indulgent. She puts the power of words back into film. Watching ‘Yes’ last night I wanted to catch every word that the actors where saying, something that I generally only feel the need to do when I go to the theatre. She is undoubtedly one of the most interesting filmmakers Britain has ever produced.