Release Date: June 24th (NYC-Landmark Sunshine and Clearview 1st/62nd), by Sony Pictures Classics.
The Cast: Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Shirley Henderson, Sam Neill.
Directed by Sally Potter.
BASIC PREMISE: An American housewife (Allen) has an affair with a Middle Eastern man (Abkarian).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This film is a beautiful work of art in many different ways. First of all, the cinematography is very exquisite. A very good example is a simple stroll through a park with cherry blossoms that look so picturesque, as if the scene was stolen directly from a painting. Secondly, the memorable musical score by Philip Glass adds a level of elegance and softness. Then there is Joan Allen's outstanding performance, as usual. She carries the film very well and convincingly--she should be nominated for Best Actress later this year. Compared to Allen, the other actors are mediocre, including Simon Abkarian and Sam Neill. Shirley Henderson plays the very perceptive maid who begins and ends the film in a quite humorous monologue. The plot is very simple and unoriginal, but what makes this film feel very fresh is that most of the dialogue is in strict iambic pentameter. This poetic style is initially annoying and even distracting, but one you get used to it, it adds a much-needed level of delicacy and freshness.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Surprisingly, there is quite a lot to think about once the end credits roll. The maid's two monologues are very thought-provoking in the way they use dirt and cleanliness to symbolize different aspects of one's life. She also says that when you get rid of dirt, you are essentially moving it away rather than eliminating it. It always tends to come back no matter how often you get rid of it. Also, a rather scary observation is that you are lucky not to have eyesight that lets us see the tiny dirt and organisms living in your very own couch--fortunately, the naked eye cannot see that. The title "yes" is also interesting to think about and is somewhat answered in the last monologue. Sally Potter is very smart for not actually mentioning the events of 9/11 in her script even though it is her response to the events.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The iambic pentameter style of dialogue is distracting at first.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
THE BOTTOM LINE: A visually exquisite and delicate masterpiece that is ultimately very thought-provoking and boasts an outstanding performance by Joan Allen. Is it worth repeated viewings? As the maid says so herself, in this world, essentially, there is no "no", only "yes".
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "y" Menu