The House of Yes (1997) Poster

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House of Fun for the sick-minded and perverse
MilesKeatonAndrew27 January 2004
The House of Yes is one of my personal favorites. Is it creepy? Yes. Is it funny? No - it's hysterical, at least to those of us accustomed to laughing at things you're not supposed to laugh about - like bizarre social taboo. Younger indie fans may not care for this flick, but The House of Yes is not to be compared with the likes of Chasing Amy. For Parker Posey fans, the film is apples to the oranges of Party Girl, Henry Fool, Clockwatchers, etc.

The House of Yes was adapted from Wendy McLeod's play, so it is a dialogue film with its own language - similar to the Coens' Miller's Crossing. As with Miller's Crossing, the snappy dialogue never misses. While watching The House of Yes, I've caught myself rewinding to catch a phrase I missed because I was still laughing a the preceding gag.

Facial closeups dominate this film, and for reason - the actors' expressions are more telling than the dialogue, delivered flawlessly by every member of the crew - looks you could spread onto a cracker, like when Mama (Bujold) warns her son Marty about Jackie-O's mental state: "I'm going to baste the turkey, and hide the kitchen knives."

The film's biggest surprise: Tori Spelling, as a prudish and naiive Pennsylvanian - perhaps her most believable role to date.

If there were a Cooperstown for comedic acting, this film alone puts Parker Posey into the Hall of Fame.

Highly recommended for the sick-minded and perverse.

Miles Keaton Andrew
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Outstanding Small Film
Fourstar3 February 1999
Don't listen to reviews that tag this movie with a "predictable" or "poor" ending - they don't get it. The House of Yes is a brilliant adaptation of stage-to-film. Although the entire movie takes place in a single location, there is no claustrophobic effect - the result of magical cinematography. Each room of the house reveals a new secret, a new mystery. The acting is superb, due to the amazing range of affect offered by Parker Posey, sharply contrasted by the humorously flattened delivery of the other cast members. The script is flawless, the directing well-hidden. Nothing about this movie screams "This is a cool indie film I just made" (hopefully a doomed approach to filmmaking) This is not Ben Affleck posing as a post-punk Dalai Lama in a waste of celluloid, but a true work of art. The incest issue is handled with grace, wit, and true affection, not to mention the laugh-out-loud black humor. It's one of my top ten, right up there with True Romance, Naked Lunch and Miller's Crossing. Again, don't fret over warnings about a predictable ending - the ending is not what it seems. Think about it.
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Parker Posey rules the screen!
yossarian10031 December 2003
Doing a film adaptation of a play rarely works, but when it does, as it most assuredly does in this movie, the performances are overwhelming and intoxicating. Parker Posey's characterization will be forever burned into my memory. The House Of Yes is completely enjoyable, even startling, and is a 'must see' excellent piece of cinema.
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I will never read film reviews again!
Jelly-418 June 1999
This is the kind of movie that I would have ordinarily RUSHED to the movie theaters to see. It's got all the right elements: it's dark comedy, a great female lead, a bizarre storyline...Yet I read reviews that the movie disappoints so I was in no rush to see it. But I finally saw it last night and wow was it great! What terrific performances, esp. from Genevieve Bujold. Posey was as delightful as ever, and even Spelling was able to do a complete 180 in contrast to her usual Bev. Hills type. The dialogue was so witty yet dark. It's a two night rental so for the first time I think I'll see a movie twice in two days! I give this movie a 9 - I would give it a 10 if it weren't for the very predictable ending.
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Wonderful, Altmanesque: Nashville meets 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean
Jared X6 May 1999
A wonderful Altmanesque cross between Nashville and Come back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. This is one obsessive, compulsive, spread-eagled, dysfunctional play, extremely well written and very tight. Parker Posey's best performance yet and extremely well cast all around.

I can't recommend it highly enough. This is the kind of movie worth waiting years for!

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Quirky & Loving it
P Adkins12 July 2002
When you have a house with 5 insane family members in it, you know it has got to be interesting. The strange mother. The foolish dumb son. The other son who has "some kind of past." The girlfriend who reminds me alot or Chrissy &/or Cindy Snow from Three's Company. The daughter, who by far is the craziest insane & jealous person you will meet...played by no other than the incredible Parker Posey! The second this film started, I was hooked. For sure this movie is NOT for everyone. But if you enjoy independant quirky flims, then this is MUST-SEE! Its twisted, perverted, and in some parts mad. In my opinion, Parker has yet to do a bad movie. But if you are not familer with her work, this is a good one to start with. If you like this, you'll enjoy: Clockwatchers; Party Girl; Misadventures of Margret. 1-10(10)Z.
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Parker Posey At Her Best!
Jerry (Nglas)15 July 2008
Very few movies based on plays can be successful, but House of Yes is not one of those that fail. It succeeds where others have failed because of the energy put into a film that is mostly dialog. Parker Posey shines as Jackie-O, the mentally troubled sister of Josh Hamilton and Freddy Prinze Jr. Tori Spelling, whose only other film I have enjoyed was Trick, did a great job of playing Jackie-O's doormat.

The movie is at its strongest when Parker bares her sadness, always hidden beneath sarcasm. A classic movie of family dysfunction without playing out the same old tired roles. This family is anything but a typical dysfunctional family and though they all appear to be nuts, part of you wants to run out and find a family just like them, because looking past all of the sarcasm and insults, you sense and feel the love.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see strong acting. Parker Posey is on top of her game here.
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schmucko6 May 1999
Seldom does a movie manage to be at the same time this dark and this funny. Nearly every line of dialogue is wickedly sarcastic--as a playwright, I spent of the time during my first viewing wishing that I could write such biting dialogue.

Parker Posey is wonderful, as is Josh Hamilton as her brother-with-benefits. The mother (the actress' name escapes me right now) is also wonderful, despite her deficient screen time. Even Tori Spelling--pariah of good actors everywhere--does a great job as Hamilton's stupid/naive fiancee (a bit of helpful typecasting). In fact, only Freddy Prinze jr. really didn't do that well in this movie, but his performance was by no means bad enough to ruin it. He seemed handily the most awkward of the bunch.

At any rate, I wound up watching it again, two days after the first time, and would recommend that anyone who hasn't done so follow my lead. Not only doesn't it lose anything on second screening, but the whole thing gets better (check out the Posey/Spellling "Marty's first girlfriend" scene)...
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Los Angeles, California
mml619 June 2000
One would think that Tori Spelling being in the cast of this movie would immediately signal its poor quality, but The House of Yes is a rare exception to that rule. Dark, twisted, and wickedly funny, one can't help but be drawn into the delusional world of Jackie O. Her family can't seem to either, as they revolve around her, half in reality and half out. This strange, surreal dynamic drives the film, and brings most of the comedy. A definite must see for fans of Parker Posey, and for anyone who considers themselves knowledgeable in the world of indie film.
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One Screwed Up LOT
bellhollow6 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is about the games between twins and their incestuous relationship. The whole family is screwed up beyond repair. Everyone seems to have a really bad hang-up on someone. The banter among the siblings is hilarious and they set each other up as much as possible to keep their screwed up family ticking. And the family keeps on ticking. The acting is very good and the movie flows very quickly. The ending stays true to the insane qualities of the family. The reality of this is how would someone get away with murder without somebody asking? Either someone got away or they got murdered and that just makes me believe the family would be found out and all sent to the looney bin. Even if you don't like the subject matter, the movie works keeping the characters nutty as all get out. You should watch this.
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As a showcase for Parker Posey, interesting; on its own, fairly dire...
moonspinner5528 March 2009
From Wendy MacLeod's play about a 1963 Thanksgiving reunion between a young man and his peculiar family, including a twin sister who is obsessed with Jacqueline Kennedy. Oppressively set in a shadowy house during a raging storm, this head-scratching talk-fest quickly tires both the eye and the ear. The scenario is full of dreary eccentrics, although Parker Posey's 'Jackie-O' is a dark, original creation unto herself. The actress, known for going out on a limb with basically unplayable roles, manages to walk a fine line between comically scabrous and downright scary (which, in an otherwise boring movie, is a triumph). Other performances by Josh Hamilton, Tori Spelling, Freddie Prinze, Jr., and a sadly under-valued Genevieve Bujold are not quite as on-target, mainly due to the sophomoric writing. *1/2 from ****
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Psychosis and incest on the east coast.
Puregold2 December 1998
When I first noticed The House of Yes, I saw it billed as a comedy. Dark humor, or black comedy as it's sometimes called, is not for everybody, and while I usually appreciate the attempt, here it just falls slightly short. Dealing with serious, deep, dark issues such as mental illness and incest, this film dove head first into the dark comedy lair, but unfortunately for my tastes, had a difficult time making its point. The film proves a couple of things for sure, family messes with your mind, and no matter what your standing or station in life, your family is the one place you are always greeted back with open arms. Parker Posey is amazing as the mentally disturbed sister the film centers around. The family itself bows to her every wish and the question finally becomes who in this twisted family is really the most crazy, and can anyone really leave the big empty house once they enter. One's sanity is in jeopardy as you begin to know each character, or family member, and while Posey plays the crazy one, at times she seems the most sane. This film was taken from a play, and that is evident here. With very few characters and the house in Washington being the only setting, the movie has a live theater feel. Overall the film just treads a bit too much on the dark side for even my tastes, despite its valiant effort to redeem itself in the end. If nothing else however, Parker Posey may be worth the price of admission.
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The house of maybe
George Parker11 August 2003
In "The House of Yes" Posey plays a nut case who calls herself Jackie-O, dresses like Jacqueline Onassis, and likes to have incestuous liaisons with her brother while doing impromptu reenactments of the Kennedy assassination. A claustrophobic dark ensemble theatrical knock-off, this stagey flick relies on the nonstop repartee of its quirky characters for entertainment as it is devoid of just about everything we go to movies to see. People and talk is all you'll get with "The House of Yes" which squeaks by with a script just clever enough to shore up a marginal concept. Okay fodder for those into dark, sardonic, and misanthropic comedy. (B-)
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theater of the absurd is so over
sophiej46829 May 2009
this 1997 film of an earlier play is the proof. there's just too much real absurdity going on. Genevieve Bujold as the disconnected mother is the best thing in it, but these days, that isn't saying much, because so many people are disconnected. What there is of a plot about sibling incest and insanity is today totally predictable. A few (too few)funny lines. no one seems to know quite what to do with Parker Posey, except Christopher Guest, in his wonderful mockumentaries, in which she's very funny. Here, she just seems strained. Tori Spelling is quite appealing as the only normal character, a donut shop waitress who lands in a pretentious upscale family.
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Just say "yes" to "The House of Yes."
jackcaughran16 September 2007
This film's thick and pervasive irony requires a sophisticated sense of humor. Starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., and the inimitable Tori Spelling, "The House of Yes" didn't give me great expectations, but for Parker Posey I was willing to take the risk. It turned out to be perhaps the most original comedy I've ever seen and one of my new favorite films.

Naive reviewers and low ratings here on IMDb have confirmed my suspicion that most people completely miss the point of this film. There is nothing earnest or straightforward in the least about the story or the dialog. Writer Wendy McLeod and director Mark Waters are trying to do for film and theater (certain genres of them, at least) what "A Mighty Wind" did for folk music, or "Best in Show" did for dog shows. Although, I contend that "The House of Yes" accomplishes this parody in a vastly more ruthless and consistently incisive way than Christopher Guest could ever dream.

The entire film is poking fun at all things trite, melodramatic, and self-serious about modern film and theater. From the narrative, the characters, and the setting, to the direction, cinematography, and dialog (especially the dialog), "The House of Yes" is not a film but a caricature of a film, adapted from a play that is the caricature of a play. Anyone who has read or seen a few modern plays will recognize the stilted, stylized dialog and the actors' artificial, super-sincere interpretations. Wendy McLeod is no idiot; she has a post-graduate degree in theater from Yale. She's not writing this doggerel in earnest; she's making fun of other people's doggerel. I mean, c'mon.

In less skillful hands, this film could easily have slipped into the realm of burlesque. If, for the sake of humor, you want to point out lots of annoying, hackneyed film and theater conventions, you run the risk of making an especially annoying film. But I think, for the most part, McLeod and Waters dodged this bullet. Not every line in the film hits the perfect chord, but a surprising majority of them do.

"The House of Yes" is not typical as a dark comedy, as a cult film, or as any other film genre. I've never seen anything else like it. If you're smart and have a wicked sense of irony, you'll love "The House of Yes." If you can't recognize a joke without a laugh track, I recommend "There's Something About Mary."
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A street car named Nasty
T Y5 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
House of Yes starts weird, gets unpleasant, then malicious, then off the charts icky, then it becomes nasty, etc.. Presumably it does this in a very conscious attempt to become a cult movie with the blackest humor in about twenty years. And if you can make it all the way through, you're the hippest viewer left standing! some reward. It's such a harangue that sensitive viewers will be turned off, anti-social viewers will be happy to see middle-class values punctured, and thoughtful viewers will just see it as a machine for provocation. The story is an escalating series of irritants: A girl waits for her brother to visit from college. We learn she has pretty bad taste, but that's excused because she's insane. But she's insane because she has an incestuous relationship with her twin brother. But her twin brother shows up with a fiancée. Then, amateurish verbal tics start to accumulate, upstaging the material (She's not a fiancé, she's a fee-OHN-SAY). Then the girl humiliates the fiancé, with about thirty cruel remarks. Then the girl and the twin brother let their sexual boundaries lapse in front of the others, and start touching inappropriately. etc. That's about the first half an hour. All of this heads nowhere... except to a reenactment of the moment she almost killed him reenacting the Kennedy assassination.

It's very difficult to put your head into the mind of its makers and imagine who the target demographic is for this; which means it's extremely hard to imagine how it got made... how someone sat through the play and thought, "Incest... humor... psychosis... this will make a terrific movie!" The stagey script makes annoying use of a cutesy device where characters repeat lines twice, or even three times before they can move on. A character will say "Marty's coming home." the 2nd character will say, "Marty's coming home?" and then back to character one who says "I said, Marty's coming home." This becomes irritating extremely fast. Three minutes don't pass without a repeated line. It's like listening to people act out a flowchart.

I used to think the humor in this outweighed the Ick factor (it's why I own a copy) but then I grew up. This was my first Parker Posey movie. And as always, she's sly and memorable. But now after seeing her other movies, this is really a piece of nastiness. It's made competently for a low budget, but it's almost mannerist in how off-putting it is. I'm not a believer in the idea that I need to like the characters in a piece, but I haven't seen a decent movie yet where I actively dislike everyone on screen.
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The House of No
Blitz8531 August 2003
While this movie may seem to have an interesting premise, it is as the reviewer said, intensely claustrophobic. The movie's tension builds but doesn't really go anywhere and makes you feel like you are trapped for eternity in this house with these people.

One must wonder why this movie was made...what is the point of it? What is it trying to teach us? No one in the history of the earth would stay in that house for more than 5 minutes, and the fact that this movie is trying to tell us the these people began and ended their lives in this house is terrible. ACH!
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Motherhood and Pennsylvania defined
heckles30 April 2002
Two lines from this film I cannot get out of my head; when Lesly (Spelling) is confronted by Mrs. Pascal (Bujold) after her tryst with her fiancé's brother, she blurts, "You were spying on us!" Mrs. Pascal replies, "Mothers don't spy. Mothers pay attention." Never have I heard the household omniscience that seems to come with maternity explained so well.

And when poor innocent Lesly reveals where she comes from originally, Jackie-O replies mockingly, "She comes from Pennsylvania. Well, Pennsylvania's just this state that's in your way when you want to get someplace else." I just about broke up when I heard that, and wish it could be posed on all road entrances to the rather stick-in-the-mud state I lived in at the time.
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Good filmed play.
Edu-216 August 1998
I still don't know what to think about films like this, which are not more than a play that happens to be filmed. Very good screenplay, good acting, specially Posey and amazingly, Spelling.Predictive ending. Good analysis about feeling comfortable with your own, even though it's a very weird own.
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Trite, predictable and poorly acted
jackshrack28 May 2011
Very poor!

I am very tired of these kinds of movies. They seem to be a reaction against Hollywood. And in the end these "independent" movies are just as trite and empty.

The first 5 minutes are intriguing and comedic. Afterwards, you get the sense that it becomes more and more of a play. Which I am not sure that there is any purpose in filming a play. I would imagine that the play would be a lot better. With the psychological dimension, a play can bring the viewer to imagine more than a film. But to film basically a play, you get the least of both world, in my opinion. Unless it is done in a very original way, like dogville. This movie just seemed trite and transparent to me.
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"Not as tasteless as it might sound"
Wes Lambert14 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Writing recently about "Happy Tears" gave me pause to think about my trajectory as a Parker Posey fan which began in the mid 90's with "Party Girl". Unfortunately the indie cult status of "Party Girl" means it has a very very very long wait on They might as well admit that it will never ship. However today "The House of Yes" arrived in the mail. This is a brilliant, wicked film that might suffer from the accusation of being pretentious with it's over indulged, privileged characters and lightning fast witty dialogue. The story is that Marty Pascel (Josh Hamilton) has made the unbelievable blunder of bringing his mousey girlfriend (Tori Spelling) home to meet his wealthy, dysfunctional family on the very night they will all be virtually trapped together by a hurricane. The driving force of the family and the movie as a whole is Parker Posey as Marty's sister, Jackie-O. She in step with the weather outside is pretty much an evil, brilliant, psychotic (with the pills to prove it) bitch in a little black dress. An unhealthy obsession with Jackie Onassis and Marty are icing on the cake. Worse yet for the poor girlfriend, once back in the fold, Marty does very little to discourage Jackie-O and ultimately joins in her twisted games. Nothing ends well here unless you see the world through Jackie-O's eyes that is.

"House of Yes" also contains perhaps my favorite line of dialogue ever - "If people are going to start telling the truth around here, I'm going to bed".

If your experience with Parker Posey is one of "You've Got Mail" and "Scream 3" or worse yet "Superman Returns", I suggest taking a trip back to the 90's to see how she earned the title queen of the indies.
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A scary possibility
gordongekko90913 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Yar, thar be spoilers ahead, matey.

I love showing this movie to people who have no idea what to expect of it. The same thing happens every time: when Mrs. Pascal explains to Leslie that when Marty and Jackie were born, Jackie had her hand on Marty's penis, my friend's jaw drops, they stare at the screen for half a second, and then they turn to me and say either "did she just say what I think she just said?" or "could you please rewind that? I don't think I heard it correctly."

Later on, when the three siblings have their little conversation and Anthony finds out about Marty and Jackie's relationship, I like to turn to my friends and ask, "hey, does this movie have enough evil coming in from all directions for you or what?"

This is, quite frankly, an excellent freak-out movie. It's good the first time, great the second time, but loses its kick after that.

One thing that I've been wondering about: Marty and Jackie claim that their thing has been going on for "about [Anthony's] entire life." I can't help but notice that Anthony is a bit slow. Also, Jackie "went into a hospital" when she was about fourteen. If you can't see where I'm going with this, I'll spell it out: is it possible that Anthony is Marty and Jackie's kid?
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New addition to the Parker Posey fan club
gregg_w8 February 1999
I had no idea what this movie was about when I picked it up at my local video rental store. There was the usual late Fri/Sat night assortment of movies available -- next to nothing. I don't think I'd ever even heard of it. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what prompted me to select it. And if I'd realized Tori Spelling was in it, I might not have. But the young lady at the check-out said, "Good choice. You'll really like this movie." Was she ever right! In a day and age when hype surrounds almost everything having to do with Hollywood and entertainment, this was one of those pristine moments when you are allowed to go into something without the slightest prejudice or preconception. I was the perfect laboratory subject, so to speak.

The plot essentially revolves around a well-off family living in upper-class suburban DC (McLean, Va., to be exact). The oldest son, Marty (Josh Hamilton), who resides in New York City, brings his new fiancee (Tori Spelling) home for the first time to meet his rather eccentric family.

This is the first film I've seen with Parker Posey. She was absolutely brilliant -- and stunningly beautiful -- as Marty's twin sister, Jackie O. From the first scene, she simply dominated this movie -- but in a positive way. When she wasn't on camera, you still couldn't help but think about her. That's not a slight to the other actors, all of whom were excellent (even Tori!). Nor is it a slight to the plot or the script, which were exquisite as well. Rather, it is simply an homage to the strength of the character in the story and the compelling performance put in by Posey. To sum it up, she is Exhibit A for the prosecition of why brunettes will in the end always be sexier than blondes. They just have that aura of mystery and intricacy that makes them totally bewitching.

I would also have to single out Freddie Prinze, Jr. for his performance as the younger brother. This is also the first movie I've seen him in. And although he is better known now (1999) than when this movie originally came out (1997), I actually didn't realize it was him until the credits ran at the end. He undoubtedly benefits from playing the second-most compelling character in the story (behind Jackie O), but he pulls it off with surprising aplomb.

I'm reluctact to divulge more about the movie, as I would prefer that others experience it in the same "pristine" state that I did. All the more likely, I feel, that you will be as equally delighted with it as I was. I will just make a few comments that will address some of what has been written here by others about the flick. First, several people criticized the movie as being too much like a play (the movie was in fact adapted from a play). Frankly, I found that to be a blessing. The movie was compact, quick-paced, and riveting. Rather than heap in a bunch of unnecessary fluff, the producers chose to put out a movie that runs (astonishingly) 87 minutes. It is arguably more like a short story. But again, to my mind, that kept it crisp and absorbing. You wanted to savor every minute (and perhaps watch it twice, as I did!).

Second, some have criticized the ending as being too predictable. While ideally a more "surprising" conclusion might have been crafted, could there really have been any other ending to this story? Let's face it, few movies have completely unexpected endings. Perhaps the best solution would have been, as someone else has suggested occurs in the play, for the story to end a bit more ambiguously. Nevertheless, to criticize the ending, which comes quick and fairly painless (unlike some films that drone on and on and on before finally giving you an utterly predictable conclusion) is to place too much emphasis on what it ultimately a minor facet of the story. The real joy of this film is watching the characters interact with one another. From that standpoint, any ending was destined to be unsatisfactory.

What this films does -- in contrast to most films these days -- is to leave the audience wanting more at the end. That virtue should not be lost on anyone.
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Twisted family fun!
Pierre_D20 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Parker Posey absolutely shines in this incestuous tale of family and relationship rivalry. "Jackie O" Parker lives in her own dream world, a world where she is the spitting image of the former First Lady. Her mother cannot say no to her and her half-brother tries to keep a distance while helping her with her medication.

All three live in a "white house", but one person has escaped the troubled island. His name? Marty. His relationship? He's Jackie's twin brother and was born with his penis in Jackie's hand. The two recreate Jack Kennedy's assassination and have since their teens. When Marty and his fiancée Lesly (Tori Spelling) come home for a fateful Thanksgiving dinner, it all starts to unravel. Drowining in duplicity, Lesly tries to stand up to the mother (Geneviève Bujold in a fantastic turn) but allowing herself to be seduced by Anthony (the half-brother) merely engulfs her into the house of lies.

Not enough can be said about Ms. Posey's acting here. It may be her best role, though I've seen only a handful of her films so will let the critics judge. Everything shines here though. The house, the actors, the moods, the absolutely warped humour and the dialogue is trenchant to say the least.

See this film if the topic matter doesn't off-put you and if you're a fan of dark, REALLY dark, humour.
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Parker Posey, Bless You
gavin69429 March 2016
A mentally unbalanced young woman (Parker Posey) who thinks she is Jackie Kennedy flips into a murderous rage when her brother returns home to reveal he is engaged.

Why does it always seem that Parker Posey never rises above a B-list actress? She is exquisite here, was great in "Waiting for Guffman", and is just a joy to watch. he should be in so many more high profile movies. Heck, I don't know what she does these days (perhaps she is on a show I don't watch).

But anyway, what a dark, twisted and irreverent twist on the Kennedy assassination. While it should not be something to joke about, neither should mental illness or incest. And yet, this is what the film does, all together, and presents a very nice movie. Not laugh out loud, but just offbeat enough to be enjoyable for those who love subversion.
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