Hank (Hus Miller) and Alex (Marguerite Moreau) are mid-divorce when Hank decides to hit the road to clear his head. He plans to stay with his father Buck (Peter Fonda), a winemaker at a beautiful vineyard in Sonoma. Alex sets off on her own vision quest but gets sidetracked when she sees Hank’s bike broken down by the roadside. Faced with waiting for repairs for several days, they wind up in a bar talking over beers and decide to play a game where each of them each day gets to set a task or a question for the other, with the only rule being You Can’t Say No.
This is not the porn version, so it doesn’t go where your mind just did, rather it takes the couple out of their routine interactions and into scary places where secrets are learned, probably things a married couple should already know about each other, but in many cases don’t. They are not fully ready to give up on the marriage so they hope the game will serve as a way to reconnect and see if better conclusions can be reached.
Divorce in the Sonoma wine country is a warm easy evening at a vineyard beside a pool with a stunning sunset and a glass of deep perfect red wine as you wistfully reminisce about your crumbling marriage with your soon-to-be-ex….. Jesus take the wheel, I’m making myself angry even writing that. My divorce was a freezing industrial East Coast morning huddled in whatever POS car I was driving at the time, the smell of exhaust, cold rain hammering down as I stared at 20 pages of drenched legal documents describing what an a*****e I was. I was on the wrong coast.
“Divorce in the Sonoma wine country is a warm easy evening at a vineyard beside a pool …“
California landscapes appear often in film and there are many great reasons to choose Sonoma: it’s close to the heart of the film industry and it’s gorgeously photogenic. The beauty of the area pervades this film and your impulse will be to immediately start looking at flights to get to that chill vibe and food and wine.
Hus Miller combines top shelf acting with extraordinary good looks (damn him) as well as being screenwriter for the film. What can’t he do? Hank is human and kind. Peter Fonda as Buck is hilarious. He’s a peaceful old man who, battles now over, has surrounded himself with wine, food, weed, and fantastic companionship. He tries to guide Hank with fatherly wisdom. Fonda is such the spirit of the Easy Rider here that it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Captain American bike parked outside with flowers growing around it.
“…a peaceful old man who, battles now over, has surrounded himself with wine, food, weed, and fantastic companionship.“
Marguerite Moreau was the sweetheart of Wet Hot American Summer and she’s just as lovely and amazing here. As Alex she shows us the confusion and pain of foundations you thought would last forever starting to crack. Hamish Linklater as their old friend Miles lightens the mood brilliantly. One of the best comedy moments comes when Miles agrees to fulfill Alex’s fantasy of a three-way.
Director Paul Kramer wins here: the filmic elements delightfully fade away into the story and characters. Cinematography so lush and beautiful you can almost feel the the warm California sun and taste the wine. This wonderful film is like a hug from your favorite person. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Hank and Alex will heal their marriage, but it is clear from the outset that they still have deep affection for each other and are certain to stay friends even if the marriage can’t survive.
You Can’t Say No (2018) Directed by Paul Kramer. Written by Hus Miller. Starring Marguerite Moreau, Peter Fonda, William Shockley, Hus Miller. Marketing for the film doesn’t have a trailer ready yet, but they did provide a clip ahead of their world premiere at the California Theater (naturally) in San Jose on March 3rd.
8 out of 10