Queerly Ever After #35: SAY YES (2018)

Queerly Ever After is a bi-monthly column where I take a look at LGBT+ films that gave their characters a romantic happily-ever-after. There will be spoilers. Also, don’t forget to buy your Queerly Ever After merch right here.

In Say Yes, a woman, Lily (Leah McKendrick), dying of cancer decides that she wants her husband Beau (Patrick Zeller) and twin brother Caden (Matt Pascua) to get together after she dies. Yes, that really is the premise of this film. While I actually think there could have been a really interesting movie to be made here, it’s not what we ended up with. The idea of the two men coming together and finding love with each other after the death of Lily would have been a great concept, but, like with Back Soon, another movie about two men who previously considered themselves straight finding love with each other after personal tragedies, Say Yes is hampered by the addition of an unnecessary outside force. In the case of Say Yes, that outside force is the dying wife, Lily, in Back Soon it is the ghost of one of the two leads’ dead wife.

The Ever Present Wife

One of the biggest issues with Say Yes, is that the first hour of the film is exclusively devoted to watching Lily die. As the audience going into the movie, we know she is terminally ill, watching her back-and-forth with Beau where she proclaims she is dying and he tells her to stop saying that, becomes tedious rather fast. It also doesn’t accomplish anything narratively speaking. I actually think, the movie would have been much stronger had Lily either been dead by the time the film starts, or she passes within the film’s first act. That way, the rest of the film could have actually explored how through shared grief her husband and brother end up falling for each other and then we could watch them grapple with the implications of not only that but also the fluid nature of their sexuality. Making Lily be the one to push them to get together after she dies, does not give them the chance to actually come together naturally.

Queerly Ever After #35: SAY YES (2018)
source: Text Engine Productions

People falling in love after bonding over shared trauma is not at all uncommon. There are even many cases of widows and widowers ending up with their deceased spouse’s sibling. Exploring that through the lens of two presumedly straight men falling for each other and discovering their own bi or pansexuality, is a really interesting concept. That is the movie I wanted to see here. Watching Lily uncomfortably try to push these two men together, while Beau for the most part resists, was an incredibly strange plot choice that does not pay off.

No Exterior Lives

Another thing to note is that none of the characters really have external lives. Almost all of the action of the film takes place within Beau and Lily’s house. Aside from two visits from Lily and Caden’s parents, and two scenes with an ex-girlfriend of Caden’s, none of these characters have any friends. Although the movie does open with home video footage of Beau proposing to Lily while surrounded by a group of, conspicuously all-male, friends, we never meet any of these friends again. They don’t even have a funeral for Lily.

Queerly Ever After #35: SAY YES (2018)
source: Text Engine Productions

There are multiple references made to Lily having lots of friends, so where are they? Does she only have friends who are men? Were those men in the opening scene just the only extras the film’s writer/director, Stewart Wade, could get? The lack of other characters, while probably done for financial reasons, casts a very strange shadow over the entire film.

In Conclusion: Say Yes

What could have been an interesting film is hampered down by heavy-handed plot contrivances, as well as a meandering first two acts. By not allowing Beau and Caden to naturally come together, but by forcing them together through Lily’s manipulation, the film mars the love story it is hoping to highlight.

Say Yes came out on DVD on May 2, 2019. For all other release dates, see here.

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