Yes Repeat No (2023) Film Review
Yes Repeat No a principle feature unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Bold, critical and very, very tense. And that seems to be the only way to deal with the reality of your subject. The film features three actors auditioning for the role of actor and activist Juliano Mer-Khamis, a former IDF paratrooper defiantly described as “100% Palestinian and 100% Jewish.” He was actually a Palestinian Jew, and little is known about how he led his world-shattering message until the tragic end of his life.
With Michael Dahanhis movie Yes Repeat Noyou get an idea.
Along with the actors, seemingly stuck in a theater trying to make sense of their purpose, there is a director dropping pointers on what they should do and, most importantly, who is also playing Juliano. There’s the public, the Israeli and the Arab, and they’re all banging to the beat of a goddamn metronome that gets louder and louder as the tension builds.
Dahan has made a very clever film about the mystery of a man who, unfortunately, we will not understand enough to observe how he managed to thrive in an industry that has never been tolerant of dualism and such political nuance. We can see the performance of Mer-Khamis in the 1984 film The little drummer girl and the actors follow the director’s instructions, which suggests that there is a code hidden in the role of the actor. This is one of the film’s only connections to reality in its metastory. Audiences who don’t follow the message from the start find themselves confused when Dahan appears on screen and sort of breaks down the remaining wall.
The metaphorical aspect of the three personalities clashing with each other in the narrow space of supposed artistic freedom is enlightening and ultimately very effective. It’s an intelligent take on identity, inspired by the life and work of a man who surfed between worlds of mutual disdain. It’s an exercise in suspense that tells an unlikely story, an unconventional biography that doesn’t cut corners by being simple. Mer-Khamis was a complex man who always spoke about conflict, but also represented humanity in the hateful mechanism of war. To meet him, understand him and finally admire him through a film like this Yes Repeat Norelatively easy.
Imagine that you are aware of your inner conflicts and the different sides of your personality. Imagine three actors trying to portray different you, and you get the idea of a conceptual vehicle Yes Repeat No. Perhaps this is a good exercise to understand yourself and the times when you come into conflict with a thought that lives only within you.