Mini-Review: Parker Posey Obsesses Over Jackie Kennedy in Mark Waters’ Directorial Debut The House of Yes (1997)

parker posey the house of yes
*There Will Be Spoilers*
Jacqueline aka Jackie-O (Parker Posey) has been recently released from a psychiatric hospital and is now living with her mother and her brother Anthony (Freddie Prinze, Jr.). She is obsessed with former first lady Jackie Kennedy. On Thanksgiving Day 1983, 20 years after the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, her twin brother Marty (Josh Hamilton) is home to to present Lesly (Tori Spelling), his new fiancé. Jackie-O is crazy jealous. She should be on medication, but instead she’s drinking, wearing a pink Chanel suit and playing around with a gun. 

The House of Yes is based on Wendy MacLeod’s play by the same name and was adapted and directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls). Like a play the film takes place in one location, but Waters still manages to make things interesting, with some stylish direction and the inclusion of real archive footage of Jackie Kennedy wearing her signature Chanel suit and hat. The film is not about the Kennedy Assassination, but rather about the incestuous relationship between Jackie-O and Marty.

From the very beginning we see Parker Posey’s character as a very screwed up woman. It’s not clear why she is consumed with jealousy for her brother, but pretty soon it becomes evident that they have been lovers for twenty years. Incest is certainly not a light subject, but this is a dark comedy, so you’ll have Mrs. Pascal (Geneviève Bujold) saying stuff like “Jackie and Marty belong to each other. Jackie’s hand was holding Marty’s penis when they came out the womb”. To give you a little taste of the dialogue.

This project seems like a bold choice for a first time filmmaker, but it really went on to define Mark Waters’ career. Being a fan of Mean Girls and Vampire Academy, you can already see glimpses of genius in this film, especially in terms of casting, but also character archetypes. This film is filled with great and strong female characters, that are allowed to say some dreary things. Of course the most impressive performance comes from Parker Posey, who’s absolutely phenomenal in the role of Jackie-O.

Her insanity comes from her interior conflict of being in love with her twin brother, which could also be read as an extreme form of narcissism. In fact the film also comments on it through Anthony’s character who remarks: “It’s like fucking a mirror”. Even though she’s clearly crazy, I could relate to her a great deal, because her feelings are very human. She is jealous, she doesn’t know how to relate to other humans “normally” and she has an addictive personality. All this reinforces her depression and alienation.

I liked The House of Yes quite a bit, it’s a solid debut for Mark Waters. Parker Posey is stunning. Freddie Prinze, Jr. gives a solid performance as well, I feel like he’s an underrated actor. I loved Geneviève Bujold as Mrs. Pascal, but her character was sort of underused, she’s very present at the beginning of the story, but then she disappears, which is weird. Other than that I’d recommend this film. It’s well written. I love the dialogue. It’s funny. There’s romance, sex, lies, an incredibly dysfunctional family and all that fun stuff.

7 out of 10

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5 comments

  1. Pingback: Parker Posey Marathon | filmstvandlife

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