Yes is based upon actor-screenwriter Tim Realbuto’s critically acclaimed off-Broadway show. Adapting a play for the big screen can prove tricky, as a camera can go anywhere, whereas the stage is limited in what it can hold and show at any given point. The pitfall for director Rob Margolies to avoid is not utilizing this new freedom, framing each shot as a medium shot, with a bolted down camera. So, can the cast and crew of Yes defy the odds to deliver a movie that properly uses the medium?
The film begins with Patrick Nolan (Realbuto) being escorted out of the acting agency that formerly represented him. He is being let go due to claims of sexual assault. While the case gets thrown out due to lack of evidence, the allegations tank his career. The former child star of the sitcom Conrad St. James now drowns his feelings in alcohol as he teaches young hopefuls the craft of acting.
Reluctantly, Uncle Pete agrees to attend his niece’s high school rendition of Romeo + Juliet. While he abhors most of it, the kid playing Romeo, Jeremiah Rosenhaft (Nolan Gould), shows great potential. So much so that Patrick agrees to take him on for free. Is Jeremiah truly that talented, or is Patrick just trying to take advantage of the high schooler?
“…former child star…teaches young hopefuls the craft of acting…agrees to take [Jeremiah] on for free.”
While Yes ultimately ends up being a worthwhile, if bumpy, journey, the first ten minutes, or so, are a hot mess. After Patrick gets in his car at the beginning, there’s a cut to him giving an interview to get his side of the story out. During all of this, Patrick is shown almost exclusively in tight shots, so the audience never gets a good look at him. Thus, when a dissolve happens, and a bearded man is in a drunken stupor, who he is is not immediately clear.
Of course, it’s Patrick, but it honestly took longer than it should have for that to be clear. What also took longer than necessary is figuring out if the dissolve moved the story forward or backward in time. Backward would make the most sense, as the story leading up to the charges would be told. But, nope, it is a jump to the present day, wherein his alcohol dependency and job are revealed.
The last bit of confusion during these opening moments comes from jumbled editing. See, the names Uncle Pete and Conrad St. James are just stated outright, without establishing the show or that Patrick Nolan is his stage name, and his real name is Peter. That means the audience is left not knowing what the main character initially looks like, nor his name. There was no reason for the information to be dumped out in this fashion, as the flashbacks that call him Conrad could be cut out and exclusively shown in old clips of the show. Then, when reporters are hounding Patrick (which is how I will be referring to him throughout), one of them should use his full legal name, then say, “…aka actor Patrick Nolan.” Then bam, no name confusion, which keeps the viewer at a distance for much longer than necessary. Finally, cut out the interview segment. Dissolve as the car drives through the throng of news people, which would more clearly establish a forward progression of time.
"…Bojack Horseman is over, and if you are jonesing for something in that same vein, Yes fits the bill."