In a glowing review that came out in Friday’s edition (June 24) of the LA Times–Kevin Thomas wrote about "Yes," a newly released movie about a passionate love affair between an American woman and a Middle-Eastern man in which they confront some of the greatest conflicts of our generation–religious–political–and sexual.
Joan Allen portrays an Irish-American scientist who is married to Anthony (Sam Neill)–a politician. Strangled by the relationship–she becomes involved in a passionate love affair with a Lebanese surgeon (Simon Abkarian) who is exiled in London. The movie is an experimental story told in iambic pentameter rhyming couplets–evoking Shakespeare. The lead characters–Allen and Abkarian–are simply called "She" and "He," never given proper names.
"The glory of the film is the remarkable Joan Allen–whose virtuosity is well matched by that of Simon Abkarian. Allen’s ?She’ is a cool goddess–an eminent London-based microbiologist and Belfast-born American. She lives in a starkly decorated town house whose cold–spare elegance reflects the ashen state of her marriage to Anthony (Neill)–a successful politician and unfaithful husband. Anger and resentment lurk just beneath the surface of their poised public facade–but at a grand dinner when the unhappy She connects with a waiter (Abkarian)–who will be known only as ?He,’ she does not fight it. He turns out to be a Lebanese surgeon who fled Beirut a decade before and lives modestly as a restaurant cook," Thomas writes. "They plunge headlong into a torrid affair–but a nasty–potentially violent clash between He and several other cooks of varying ethnicity–religion and politics thrusts He back into his Arabic identity and culture–causing him to reject She as a symbol of a superpower that looks down on the Arab world."
Thomas raves–"Allen and Abkarian have the presence–skill and commitment to take the viewer along on harrowing emotional journeys."
Directed by Sally Potter–Thomas dubs her the "ever idiosyncratic and daring British filmmaker" who tells "a searing–the only word for it–love story that lays bare the pain and rage of the conflicts between the Middle East and the West in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq War–with its demonization of the Arab world on the one side and escalating hatred of America on the other."
Potter says–"I started writing ?Yes’ in the days following the attacks of September 11 in New York City. I felt an urgent need to respond to the rapid demonization of the Arabic world in the West and to the parallel wave of hatred against the United States?I began by writing an argument between two lovers–one a man from the Middle East (the Lebanon)–the other a woman from the West (an Irish-American) at a point where their love affair has become an explosive war-zone–with the differences in their backgrounds starting to cast a long shadow over their intimacy."
"The war in Iraq began as we began rehearsals; with Joan Allen and Simon Abkarian heading a fine–committed cast. Lines from the script became more and more pertinent as the characters’ journey accelerated. During the working process we talked passionately about the themes of the film; the struggle to understand each other (East and West–Christian and Muslim); the desire to respect each other’s differences and to find a way of living side by side," Potter added.
"Bold–vibrant and impassioned–?Yes’ is the work of a high-risk film artist in command of her medium and gifted in propelling her actors to soaring performances," noted Thomas.
"?Yes’ is sublime! A modern love story?relentlessly rapturous mis-en-scene. The chemistry between Allen and Abkarian transcends their contrasting ethnicities. Sally Potter has gambled heavily–and the bet has paid off magnificently."
–Andrew Sarris–The New York Observer
"You haven’t seen anything like it! A stunning epic about a grand passion."
–Tim Appelo–Seattle Weekly
"It’s as if Ingmar Bergman–William Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss had collaborated on a project."
–Desson Thomson–The Washington Post
Exclusive Engagemen’s start on June 24:
West Hollywood: Laemmle’s Sunset 5 (323) 848-3500
West Los Angeles: Laemmle’s Royal (310) 477-5581
Encino: Laemmle’s Town Center 5 (818) 981-9811
Pasadena: Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 (626) 844-6500
Visit the trailer at www.yesthemovie.com