Yes People short film review

★★★

Directed by: #GisliDarriHalldorsson

Written by: #GisliDarriHalldorsson

Starring: #HelgaBragaJonsdottir, #IlmurKristjansdottir, #JonGnarr

Film review by William Hemingway



Several animated characters' legs are shown, with one person lying down on the ground above the title of the film.
Film poster for Yes People

Not to be confused with the Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man (2008) in which he optimistically says 'Yes' to every opportunity that comes his way, resulting in 'hilarious' consequences and potent life lessons, Yes People is an Icelandic animated short written and directed by Gisli Darri Halldorsson.

Here the premise is simple: people living in the same apartment block go about their daily lives and daily routines whilst only uttering the word 'Yes' in several different iterations. We follow three families – an older couple, a middle aged couple and a single mother with her teenage son – as they show us continually just how conditioned they have become at being 'Yes People' in their everyday lives.

However, everything is not quite what it seems, and as we follow each character and come to know their habits and surroundings a little bit better, we find that these 'Yeses' (it is a word, honestly, I looked it up) are used to cover up a multitude of emotions and motivations that are being hidden just beneath the surface. We also witness a series of situations in which it would be better for the characters to just say 'No', particularly when their own desires and weaknesses are involved.

The obvious vices of excess food and drink (alcohol) are exposed alongside the addiction of screen-time for the younger generation, and we watch as the constant saying of 'Yes' to these affects each individual. Most of the characters seem to be trapped in the same vicious cycle, saying 'Yes' to things they don't want, like or agree with in order to keep cutting into the groove of an easy life, no matter that it hurts themselves or those around them the more they say 'Yes' to it. That's not to say that this short film is depressing, merely realistic, and there are points of relief and good humour to punctuate and contrast with the mundane; the illustration of a repetitive 'Yes, yes, yes' scenario, in which two of the characters get it on, being the most obvious example.

Much like the multitude of Pixar shorts that it resembles, Yes People seems a jolly little diversion on the surface but hides a more reasoned and thoughtful heart within its layers. There are large comparisons to be made between it and other dialogue light animations such as Belleville Rondez-vous (2003) and The Illusionist (2010) but the strongest link seems to be with the works of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, particularly Delicatessen (1991) and Amelie (2001), where the visuals and the sound design mesh with each other seamlessly to provide an all encompassing feel to the proceedings.

Whilst the story doesn't really go anywhere and the characters aren't explored much outside of their blinkered provincial existence, Yes People still manages to capture and hold the viewer while also having plenty to pick apart and pore over with repeat viewings. It is a charming little film that deserves to have plenty of people saying 'Yes' to it, even if these people aren't on the Academy Awards selection committee.