Here is a new approach to love
It is hard to know where to begin my review for Stewart Wade’s brand new film Say Yes. The drama which will see its world premiere at FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival next month is a tender meditation on love, loss, and connections that reach far beyond the confines of sexual orientation.
It all begins with a marriage proposal.
Beau (Patrick Zeller) has brought his girlfriend Lily (Leah McKendrick) to a secluded spot in Southern California to ask her to marry him. She, of course, accepts, and they’re soon happily married.
One day, Beau arrives home from work to find Lily sitting in the dark in the living room. She has been to her doctor who has diagnosed her with cancer.
Soon, Lily’s twin brother Caden (Matt Pascua) moves in with the couple to help take some of the burdens off Beau. As the aggressive disease takes further hold and Lily realizes she may not survive, she decides that nothing would make her happier than for her brother and her husband to be together as a couple when she is gone.
She has been watching them and has witnessed what was once a tense relationship grow into something more even if they cannot see it themselves.
Wade, whose previous films include Tru Loved and Such Good People, has brought together a brilliant cast to play his three leads as well as his supporting cast including an appearance by Shari Belafonte (daughter of Harry) as Lily’s doctor.
McKendrick gives a beautiful, layered performance as Lily. Her descent into the emotional and physical journey of cancer treatment draws the viewer into her world.
She is the enduring bridge between Beau and Caden, and though you can almost hear a mental record scratch when she makes the suggestion to her husband that maybe he feels something more than he realizes for her brother, the sincerity in McKendrick’s performance makes it all seem plausible.
Pascua fully embodies the sometimes rudderless photographer who is Caden. He is undeniably sexy but it is his emotional availability that makes him truly endearing, and Pascua’s honest performance is breathtaking.
Zeller rounds out the leading cast as dedicated and heartbroken husband Beau. Though Lily is the emotional heart of the film, it is Beau’s uncertainty of what will happen when she is gone that ultimately drives the film forward, and Zeller’s raw portrayal of that journey is pitch perfect.
The three actors are completely believable together with amazing chemistry which was absolutely essential to bring this particular story to life. It is rather complicated after all.
Setting aside Lily’s heartbreaking storyline, Say Yes could have fallen into the same traps we have seen with so many other “gay-man (or in Caden’s case bisexual man) falls-for-straight man, straight-man-discovers-he’s-not-so-straight” film in the LGBT video library. To say that the trope feels tired is an understatement, and is also insulting to the audience.
Wade and his cast choose, rather, to take that story and dig into it.
Is sexuality fluid? Is it possible that Dr. Kinsey was correct when he stated that most people fall somewhere along the spectrum between heterosexuality and homosexuality rather than their extremes?
Or, is it less scientific and love is simply love regardless of gender, absent of labels, and much easier to recognize when you’re in it than when you try to overanalyze it or make it conform to society?
This is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers. There is only what is true for you, in this moment, and it is to be cherished when it is found, even and perhaps most especially when it comes from an unexpected place.
“I don’t know what I want, but…but don’t go,” Beau pleads with Caden. “Just please, don’t go.”
It’s one of the most honest lines I’ve ever seen in film and it deserves time to ponder.
Caden’s bisexuality is important in this film and never dampened by surrounding circumstances. He already walks that line between “us” and “them” and is an example to Beau that life does not have to exist in one place or the other.
I was glad to see a real portrayal of bisexuality in a film. All too often the B in LGBT is silent -- or even worse -- silenced by others in the community. Seeing a young man who falls in love with a person regardless of gender is a breath of fresh air.
No doubt Say Yes will be a topic for discussion when it screens at FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival.
There’s also little doubt that some will walk away shaking their heads, but for those who are open to its message, it can and will be a transformative experience.
Say Yes will screen at The Observatory-North Park on Saturday, June 9, 2018, at 1:15 pm, and will be paired with Canadian short film Morning After. Tickets are available online.
FilmOut presents the San Diego LGBT Film Festival is on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at 7 pm to Sunday, June 10, 2018, at 7 pm at the Observatory North Park.
The Observatory North Park is located at 2891 University Ave, San Diego, 92104
Get your tickets by clicking HERE.