Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
Each member of a family in Taipei asks hard questions about life's meaning as they live through everyday quandaries. NJ is morose: his brother owes him money, his mother is in a coma, his wife suffers a spiritual crisis when she finds her life a blank, his business partners make bad decisions against his advice, and he reconnects with his first love 30 years after he dumped her. His teenage daughter Ting-Ting watches emotions roil in their neighbors' flat and is experiencing the first stirrings of love. His 8-year-old son Yang-Yang is laconic like his dad and pursues truth with the help of a camera. "Why is the world so different from what we think it is?" asks Ting-Ting.
Can we use the word epic to categorize the size and the reach of a movie or is it just a saturated genre? Well, Edward Yang’s family drama of 2000 is one of the most beautiful film about family since the intimist grand scale studies of Yasujiro Ozu. Summarizing movies is not something I like to do in my reviews and I think it takes too much words that are already wrote by marketers.
But, Yang’s film is touching and riveting just like the pictures taken by Yang-Yang that reminds us of what the others see of us are a side we never see. With a naturalist direction Yang’s mastery is at storytelling and the sincerity of the feelings and situations his multifaceted’s characters embrace. This is honestly, the kind of film that throws you out of your chair.
To cite the late Roger Ebert : There was a time when a film from Taiwan would have seemed foreign and unfamiliar--when Taiwan had a completely different culture from ours. The characters in "Yi Yi" live in a world that would be much the same in Toronto, London, Bombay, Sydney; in their economic class, in their jobs, culture is established by corporations, real estate, fast food and the media, not by tradition. The great film critic couldn’t be more right about Yi Yi, this is a movie about contemporary life and the currents of life. Yang also puts up stories that defies the rules of regular romantic films and the fulfilment of parts of life that Hollywood often offers. Yang demonstrates how a person’s life is fulfilled by not only some moments that can be captured by a motion picture but as the evolution of someone and his actions in the maelstrom of society, family, friends, lovers.
With Yi Yi, Edward Yang left one of the greatest film about family in our contemporary world. It was the first film from Yang I ever watched and I can’t believe I waited this long to discover this talented filmmaker. I hate when I have to finish a film review with a sentence like that but I think Yi Yi s not far from being Yang’s masterpiece if I stick with its praise all over the film world. I’m now looking forward on watching his A Brighter Summer Day.