Yes.

Sometimes you go and see a film just to dislike it. I think there was a bit of this about me when I went to see Sally Potter’s Yes, a film which proclaimed itself happily as being entirely in verse. And the opening soliloquy from Shirley Henderson seems very, very odd. It was as if someone who had found a bit of Shakespeare about cleaning. It was exactly like that: which is when the penny dropped. We allow Shakespeare to be performed like this, but never anything else.

Well it might just be the rhythm, or the care taken over the words, or it might be the second-hand Shakespeare connotations. But I really liked Yes. I wanted to dislike it, but actually the veneer of artifice made the performances more accessible. The verse allowed characters to talk about feelings in an unrealistic way, because all of the dialogue was unrealistic. This is just a relationship drama, Joan Allen’s American Irish woman embarking on an affair with a Lebanese chef. There is the East vs West culture clash but nothing that would have stood out if it was not for the verse. Sam Neill is wonderfully controlled, but this is Allen’s film, and it helps that she is captivatingly watchable.

But the real star is the language. I don’t really care how good the verse is: though in parts, especially Sheila Hancock’s death speech, it was excellent. The fact it is being done makes you listen in a different way. The question Yes asks me back is, why did I want to dislike it before I went in? Potter herself suggests a nascent anti-intellectualism in the UK (whilst affirming that she is no intellectual). Perhaps. This is not a difficult film to get your head around, but it is different. And I liked it.

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