Thanksgiving dinner isn't the only family affair cookin' in this House



Jim Parsons

Campus News Editor

A rambling, white mansion in an affluent D.C. suburb. A hurricane. A father who mysteriously disappeared. And a sister who thinks she's Jackie Kennedy?

If this doesn't sound like the makings of an award-winning movie, go catch The House of Yes, the latest serving of indie-movie queen Parker Posey. Yes, adapted from the stage play, deals with the Pascal household over Thanksgiving weekend, 1983, when son Marty (Josh Hamilton) brings his fiancee Lesly home to visit.

Lesly (Tori Spelling) is greeted by Mrs. Pascal (Genevieve Bujold) and her children Anthony (Freddy Prinze Jr.) and Jackie-O (Posey). Sounds fine, except there's a hurricane; Anthony thinks he's in love with Lesly; and Jackie-O, well ... she believes she's Jackie O.

Mr. Pascal, who we only glimpse in a painting, disappeared Nov. 22, 1963 - the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. For some reason, his disappearance has inexorably intertwined the Pascals' lives with the Kennedys' Camelot mystique.

In fact, Jackie-O fondly remembers the time she attended an Ides of March party dressed as Jackie, complete with pink suit, pillbox hat and fake blood.

It seems that everything can be smoothed over as long as Jackie-O takes her medication. However, the family's many quirks surface when Lesly enters the house.

If you're expecting a fantastic piece of independent film, The House of Yes will probably disappoint you. It lacks the superb acting, the unknown players and the esoteric plot of a true indie winner.

The storyline, while unique, has a lot of holes (What, exactly, happened to the father? What role does Anthony play in the family dynamic?), and it sure can drag along at times.

The strongest actress is clearly Bujold, who is magnificent in an unsettling sort of way. If she wasn't off-screen for two-thirds of the movie, she would quietly steal most of it.

Posey plays her part well, though it's difficult to see anything but Party Girl dressed up in pearls and a chic hairdo. Her biting comments to Spelling, coupled with her near-hysterical ravings about everything from a hairbrush to ice, are the most memorable aspects of her character.

All four younger cast members engage in a couple of marvelous rapid-fire conversations that evoke the sharp exchanges of movies of the late 1930's and early '40s.

Waters' direction and Michael Spiller's photography move effectively through the piece while highlighting the characters' tension and setting the eerie mood in the Pascal home, though the entire film still feels a lot like a play.

In all, The House of Yes acts like a bold, mysterious black comedy dealing with taboo subjects, but is not bold enough, black enough, nor taboo enough and too enigmatic to live up to its potential.

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