Sunday, 19 April 2009


Sally Potter’s Yes uses various cinematic devices in order to tell its story, but for the most part, they do not lead the film, nor do they go unnoticed. The most obvious device to identify is the use of the iambic pentameter in the form of rhyming couplets, which Potter herself describes as a means of evoking the simultaneity of thought and feeling. For me, that every character speaks and thinks in rhymes conjures up an idea of everyone straining to fulfil the most basic expectations of a ‘perfect’ human being. This is best exemplified with the scene in which He asks She: “From Elvis to Eminem, Warhol’s art/I know your stories, know your songs by heart/But do you know mine?” This demonstrates his frustration at the differences between the two, and his displeasure at his culture being seen as subordinate to hers.

Perhaps the strongest theme for me was the cleaners as all-seeing, all-knowing witnesses, in particular the cleaner who breaks the fourth wall to become our narrator (played by Shirley Henderson). As she weaves comparisons with microscopic bacteria and the larger worlds in which they reside, her hands toy with various manifestations of dirt. In this way, she is showing us how well she can know a person through the evidence they leave behind. In echo of this idea, every character in the film who cleans by occupation also looks directly at the audience, perhaps to extend the idea of constant surveillance beyond the universe of the film.

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