Sally Potter has a reason for her rhyme scheme in Yes. The former lyricist responds to an atmosphere of hate and fear (post 9/11) with love, verse, and humor in a production affected by the start of the war in Iraq. Infusing politics into a relationship drama becomes more frustrating than sophisticated and mesmerizing.
The script by Potter stars Joan Allen, very good in The Upside of Anger, and part Armenian and Lebanese Simon Abkarian (The Truth About Charlie). Allen's American molecular biologist of Northern Irish descent, "She", meets cute with Abkarian's "He", a chef, at a banquet. She is in a frigid marriage with loveless politician husband Anthony (Sam Neill) who enjoys listening to blues music by B.B. King and Eric Clapton.
Yes sounds and looks like a very artistic, experimental film, trying to impart a rhythm of contradictions as "She" and "He" are made out to be complex and sympathetic. Etching portraits against the stereotypes considering overseas enemies and Western refuge seekers and exiles, there's a form of iambic pentameter that goes from conversation to subliminal thought.
The story isn't vital to the proceedings probably like the poetry, but the syllabic routines and the instinctive, hand-held camera work (sometimes in a surveillance mode and varying in speeds) often give it too much of an abstract quality, even for arthouse cinephiles.
Still, some erotic interplay between Allen and Abkarian touches on issues of religion, ethics, and sexuality before the upside of anger from world events shifts the passionate to something illicit. Abkarian comes across with much charisma and intensity, even against his co-workers in the loud kitchens, while Allen, always sensitive and intelligent, is predominantly cold.
Allen has some good moments opposite god-daughter (Stephanie Leonidas) who idolizes her, and later her beloved, comatose aunt (Sheila Hancock) whom she visits in a Belfast nursing home. And the lovers have a memorable argument in a reverberating car-park.
Yet, the earnestness at hand, starting from the Greek chorus/camera woman housecleaner for Anthony and "She" (Shirley Henderson) is more laughably odd than curiously amusing. And the change in attitudes and change in latitudes from London to Cuba at the end seem to hold onto a rage against America, even with jogging on a beach, a video for God as color becomes more deeply saturated on the screen. Potter's challenging, creative mosaic isn't the kind of expressive love story most will say yes to.