I usually give Sally Potter a lot of slack; I've enjoyedall three of her feature films so far ("Orlando," "The TangoLesson" and "TheMan Who Cried"), even if I've been alonein doing so. She's an intelligent and sensitive filmmaker who usually establishesbreathing room for her deeply felt characters.
However her latest film, "Yes," is a failed experiment.Joan Allen plays an Irish-born woman stuck in a loveless, childless marriageto a philandering husband (Sam Neill). She meets a Lebanese cook (SimonAbkarian) who was once a surgeon in Beirut, and begins a love affair. Writtenentirely in verse, "Yes" requires the actors to suffer throughlong passages of blathering talk, and the scenes routinely dry out longbefore they end.
Potter attempts to add layers to the film by hinting atpolitical paranoia and showing scenes through surveillance cameras, butthe verse angle nullifies these attempts. The superb Allen is capable ofextremes: from icy control to dropping her emotional guard, yet she cannotmake this film's rhythms work.
Shirley Henderson, playing a maid who observes the actionand breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera, shows justhow the film might have played. With her silky, slithering delivery, sheplays with the words like a snake might toy with a mouse.