Yes (film)

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Yes (2004) poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed bySally Potter
Written bySally Potter
StarringJoan Allen
Simon Abkarian
Sam Neill
Gary Lewis
Music byPhilip Glass (song)
Tom Waits (song)
Sally Potter
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
September 4, 2004 (Telluride Film Festival)
Running time
100 min
Budget£1,000,000 (estimated)

Yes is a 2004 film written and directed by Sally Potter and starring Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Samantha Bond, Sam Neill, Shirley Henderson, Raymond Waring, Stephanie Leonidas, and Sheila Hancock.

The film's dialogue is almost entirely in iambic pentameter and usually rhymes. This artistic choice polarized film critics.


The film opens as an unnamed Irish-American microbiologist (Allen) discovers her English businessman husband Anthony (Neill) is having an affair with their goddaughter's mother. Feeling fragile and alone at an elegant London dinner party, she meets a Lebanese Muslim chef (Abkarian) who immediately begins seducing her. They soon begin a passionate, torrid affair. He tells her of his past in Beirut, where he was a surgeon who became disillusioned after he saved a man's life moments before he was shot dead. She tells him about her childhood, which began in Belfast where she was raised by a loving Marxist aunt before she moved to America.

After a racially driven argument in his restaurant's kitchen, the chef is fired. His connection with the microbiologist begins to implode as he questions the foundation for their relationship and cultural attitudes begin to pull them apart. "From Elvis to Eminem, Warhol's art," he says, "I know your stories, know your songs by heart. But do you know mine? No, every time, I make the effort, and I learn to rhyme, in your English. And do you know a word of my language, even one? Have you heard that 'algebra' was an Arabic man? You've read the Bible. Have you read the Koran?"

She is called away suddenly to Belfast when her aunt (Hancock) is hospitalized. After the old woman dies, the microbiologist telephones the chef and invites him to travel with her to Cuba, to make the journey her aunt always wanted to make but never did. He, however, has returned to Beirut. She travels alone to Havana where she undergoes an emotional and physical renewal. When she prays to God for some kind of sign that life has meaning, she is interrupted by news that a man is there to see her; it is her lover, the chef, who has suddenly arrived in Cuba to be with her.

The film is punctuated throughout by commentaries and glances from various cleaners and maids who act as a sort of Greek chorus as they look and speak directly to the camera, most notably the microbiologist's housecleaner (Henderson), who offers various metaphorical commentary about dirt, germs, and cleanliness and how much they are like the larger world.


Yes divided critics upon its release. It received an aggregate score of 55/100 on Metacritic[1] and has a 58% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Roger Ebert assigned the film a full four stars; writing that "Potter's sin has been to make a movie that is artistically mannered and overtly political", he said that "what the dialogue brings to the film is a certain unstated gravity; it elevates what is being said into a realm of grace and care."[3] Jonathan Rosenbaum also gave the work his highest rating, lauding it as "beautifully composed and deftly delivered".[4] Desson Thomson of The Washington Post wrote, "For those who accept Potter's premise -- and why not embark on a challenging, enriching experience? -- this is a unique, bold adventure of the soul."[5]

Conversely, A. O. Scott of The New York Times, while admitting that "there is no denying Ms. Potter's skill at versifying -- or for that matter, at composing clear, striking visual images", disparaged her lines as doggerel and concluded that "her formal ingenuity [...] is yoked to ideas of almost staggering banality".[6] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post was also unfavorable, calling it "sporadically beautiful" but also "belabored and, ultimately, inert. It's a bold exercise, an interesting experiment, but a movie it ain't."[7]



  1. ^ "Yes Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "Yes (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 7, 2005). "Yes Movie Review & Film Summary (2005)". Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (July 7, 2005). "Love in the Time of Terror". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Thomson, Desson (July 29, 2005). "For Rhyme and Reason, Just Say 'Yes'". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Scott, Anthony Oliver (June 24, 2005). "Adulterous Romance in a Fractious World". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  7. ^ Hornaday, Ann (July 29, 2005). "Unfulfilled? Don't Take 'Yes' For An Answer". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2017.

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