Yes, And could benefit from more romantic chemistry amid its swirling of different themes.
Published on February 2, 2023
Rating 2.5 /5
In the same way that the film is about an actor who hasn’t taken off yet, Yes, And… is a romantic comedy that feels like a few drafts away from being a great movie. There’s undeniably a passion and relatability that writer/director Alex Chu injects into this story of struggling to make careers and relationships work. It’s mildly disheartening that genuine nature rarely pushes through its budgeted and tactile approach.
An Asian-American actor is at the heart of this story. Unable to land prominent roles, he finds himself struggling to find any work that brings him joy. He resorts to much less fulfilling work, like coaching other actors to make ends meet. Life seems hard and dreary for the would-be actor with his one-bedroom apartment in California. It gets even worse when his best friend comes to stay with him after being divorced; he is an obnoxious guy who conflicts with the actor’s obsessive-compulsive nature. It gets even worse when his ailing parents visit as well.
The only bright spot amid failed auditions and awkward interviews is when he meets a woman he falls in love with. He just so happens to meet her on the way to therapy, and they hit it off great. The only problem is that she’s planning on leaving town soon. Since this woman is the only spot of joy in his life, he makes it his goal to ensure that she’ll stay with him, even outright stating this mission goal directly to her.
This film meanders around trying to snatch up bits and pieces of humanity in its day-to-day struggles of an Asian-American trying to be an actor. We get a bog-standard romantic montage of the film’s couples posed with an even more bog-standard music choice of slow Latin jazz. There’s a surprisingly sweet moment between the actor and his mother as they talk about growing up and connecting with generations. Solid social commentary is here and there in how the actor deals with the toxic positivity of agents and directors who look down on him.
Unfortunately, the film never finds a consistent tone to hit its groove. The obnoxious agent, who constantly speaks Mandarin and Cantonese, goes on for far too long, making scenes where the condemnation of an acting career carries less of an impact. The scenes of the family being annoying are so sterile that the annoyance factor doesn’t feel as frustrating. A discussion of past girlfriends has faster pacing, which feels like a scene from a much different movie. For as much as the film wants to hang out with these characters, they always seem to be talking directly about this actor and his relationships, where the few moments of exposition-free dialogue feel less like building character and more like the packing peanuts of a product.
Yes, And could benefit from more romantic chemistry amid its swirling of different themes. The golden moments that count between the actor and his lover come so close to being sweet enough to carry this film. If more scenes of them were combined, it could’ve carried the movie entirely. But in trying to be a film that dabbles in the problems of acting, the low-key racism of show business, the frustrations of friends, and the legacy of family, this is a movie that has lots of decent elements that only add up to a fine movie for the small budget.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.