Monday, August 24, 2009


Here’s a movie review of a film I never saw.

I never got around to seeing it, but I’ve often thought of it because it may be unique. The film was “Yes,” released a few years ago, directed by Sally Potter.

We have had scripts before that used verse, usually blank verse. One thinks of Maxwell Anderson and T S Eliot and a few others. But Sally Potter was one courageous director: her movie “Yes” was in rhymed iambic pentameter.

Imagine, a modern film about modern couples and modern problems and situations, in iambic pentameter – Shakespeare’s system, five beats to the line.

The trick, the challenge, for the actors faced with such a verse style was to make highly artificial language sound like natural speech. This was tough enough to do in Shakespeare’s day and it would seem to be a lot tougher for actors today. As one script example, the girl in the film says, “The things they’ve done have not been in my name. I feel no pride. I feel a deepening shame.” You can count out the five beats as you read the line.

I have the feeling – and I could of course be wrong – that the average moviegoer felt such dialogue was simply stilted and rather wooden, perhaps not really caring much about the revolutionary thing the director was attempting to do.

Some critics loved it; others thought it was kind of a mess. “Say ‘No’ to ‘Yes,’” was the way one put it.

But who knows? The movie might ultimately turn out to be some sort of cult classic, in spite of, perhaps even because of, its iambic pentameter approach. In any event, it does seem to be unique.

What’s your opinion?

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