Boston Herald, MA
July 1 2005

`Yes,' strangers can reach out across the rift
By James Verniere
Friday, July 1, 2005

Something sublime happens a few minutes into ``Yes,'' Sally Potter's
modern romance written entirely in iambic pentameter. It's not that
you forget it's in verse. It's that you stop paying attention to that
aspect of this rich, sexy, politically urgent tale of love between
people of clashing cultures.

Written in Shakespeare's favorite meter and taking a
star-crossed-lovers cue from such works of Shakespeare as ``Othello''
and ``Romeo and Juliet,'' the film is an offbeat triumph.

Potter's lovers are from two different, but not entirely
dissimilar, worlds. ``She'' (Joan Allen) is an unhappily married,
American molecular biologist of Northern Irish descent familiar with
civil and religious war. ``He'' (Armenian-born French actor Simon
Abkarian) is a refugee from Beirut, a physician turned disgruntled
London cook who meets her outside a dinner she attends with her
British diplomat husband (Sam Neill).

Her husband is a rake and a heel who lives for seduction and
loves to betray his wife.

She finds passion, warmth, companionship and humor in the arms
of her lover, although she holds the strings because he's living in
exile and is a virtual pariah in the West.

In the role of a cleaning lady, the priceless Shirley Henderson
is a one-woman Greek chorus, commenting on the action and reminding
us of the real and symbolic ``dirt'' we accumulate in life. The film
is a rhapsodic depiction of bridge-building between East andWest,
Christian and Muslim, male and female, art and life.

Potter, a Brit with a background in dance, theater, music and
film, wrote ``Yes'' as a response to 9/11 and to what she calls ``the
demonization of the Middle East . . . and parallel wave of hatred
against America.'' The film is rather obviously meant to force the
two cultures to look at one another and see similarities and shared
goals and interests. But Allen, who is quietly amassing her
generation's most impressive body of work, and Abkarian keep it
grounded in the immediate concerns of two people struggling to keep
an unlikely love affair alive.

The film's title is also a reminder of Molly Bloom's incantatory
litany at the closing of James Joyce's ``Ulysses.'' Like Joyce's
monumental novel, Potter's fine, if somewhat more modest, achievement
is both a work of art and a celebration of art's power to redeem the
world. Say yes.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress