First brownie point that needs to be given out immediately with Yes, We’re Open: with a largely Asian American cast as the leads, the story has nothing to do with their ethnicity nor any cultural awkward elements that are found quite often in films like these.
Here’s the synopsis:
Luke and Sylvia are the very models of modern individuals in a metropolitan relationship. Enter Elena and Ronald, the free spirited polyamorous couple who are hell-bent on getting Luke and Sylvia into bed. A fun slice of liberal San Francisco life told as a sex comedy, but much more sophisticated than a bedroom farce, Yes, We’re Open throws our unlikely heroes Luke and Sylvia into a hotbed of sex, jealousy, politics, sexual jealousy, sexual politics, sex and sex. And if they all play their cards right, there might even be some sex somewhere along the way.
Instead, what we have is a simple yet very effective story about sex that is well made, considering they only shot this in 16 days with a micro-budget of around $10,000 (in the film world, that’s puny for a feature). Usually indie films with such a low budget and tight shooting time are often rampant with problems, but director Richard Wong and his stellar ensemble cast lifts this rather “slice of life” film into a cohesive & entertaining story, truly in the indie fashion. For more details, follow me after the jump!
I will also put out that this film has captured the awkward clumsy nature of sex that majority of Hollywood films glamorize. Yes, sex isn’t that pleasant in all situations and yes, when she sits on top of you (for all the fellows out there), the sensation can be more painful than pleasurable. I need to give major kudos to Parry Shen, who plays Luke, in perhaps creating the most bizarre, awkward sex noises in American cinema history (if anybody can give me something just as weird, please do!) Okay, with all that observations on all things sex out of the way, I find myself enjoying this movie greatly even if some moments seemed plain with dead space from the lack of multiple camera angles that could otherwise quicken the pace up. It helped immensely that I had a phone call interview with the director who helped me see a very clear picture in the obstacles and trials the film crew and cast had to face as they went about shooting this film.
“Lynn Chen and Parry Shen were the very first people contacted since I knew them in real life,” Rich said, later elaborating that he knew they would work great as a couple after seeing them play as one in Goh Nakamura’s Surrogate Valentine (which is also playing in this year’s LAAPFF). Both actors responded immediately after seeing the script, with Lynn saying a lighting yes after receiving and reading the script in 1.5 hours. It was Lynn who then suggested Sheetal Sheth and Kerry McCrohan to play the free spirited Elena and Ronald. Altogether, with a few other cast members as supporting (with a cameo appearance by director Dave Boyle), they went out making this film with an extremely limited budget that was much lower than their usual pay rate. They did this project out of love, which this film has in abundance, even if technically, it may seem a bit lacking.
“Everybody was fairly experienced and everybody did their work and was super prepared…for most of the filming, we had to get our shots in quickly and just move on,” Rich described as he explained how quick the shooting process was. The film was also shot entirely in chronological order, so the actors grew to mature just as the characters did in real time.
The director wasn’t lying about that fact; the cast were indeed on top of their game and for a low-budget indie film like this, a huge chunk of whether or not the film succeeds rest upon the actors. To this degree, they delivered.
I would rate this 8 out 10. Yes, We’re Open is a great sex comedy (don’t bring your kids!) that will have people discussing on what the definition of a modern couple really is, as well as the value of secrets in relationships. A comedy that can actually make you think and talk to people and have a conversation? Now that’s something you don’t see everyday.
UPDATE: Rich didn’t actually know Lynn or Parry before shooting this movie, they were introduced to him by his friend Dave Boyle, after seeing his film and feeling like they’d be great in the roles. The film was actually more than that the originally reported $10,000; it was$ 30,000. The $10,000 came from the Kickstarter campaign, and the rest Rich financed on his own. Finally, Lynn did introduce Rich to Sheetal, but Kerry is an old friend from film school who works as an assistant director, and Rich thought he would be perfect for this role based on their real-life friendship.