Daver1’s review published on Letterboxd:
I knew I needed something special for my 2000th film and Yi Yi certainly didn't disappoint.
Yi Yi starts with a wedding, ends in a funeral, and packs the rest of life in between the two. Yang often frames our family against reflections of the city, the two overlapping each other until they become one image. They are representations of a larger whole, the daily dramas of their lives playing out on both an extremely intimate level, but also being projected out on a broader stage. Yang isn't trying to paint one specific family in one specific time period and the troubles that relate only to them. Although they have different names and speak a different language, in some ways this is my family on display as well. It's everyone's. The portrayal of this family's life is universal in its execution. N.J. with his foundation of regrets and doubts, Ting-Ting as she builds her first, and Yang-Yang before he has any. One after the other, each generation follows the previous one through the necessary cycle of life. The ups and downs are both portrayed beautifully with a genuine touch of authenticity that feels rare.
Yi Yi is a film that treats people and moments like music, a continuous flowing rhythm of art and beauty that infiltrates all of life. Dreams are a little more colorful and a little brighter than the reality around them, but the reality is never grey or lifeless. Music can always be found in the people and moments around you. Yang never ceases to amaze me at his ability to paint a portrait that's so specific and intricate, yet perfectly encapsulates these universal ideas. I kept waiting for that scene to come that I liked less than all the others, for a decision to be made, or a direction to be taken that I didn't enjoy. In a 3 hour film, it's unlikely for that scene to never come, but it didn't. Every scene perfectly carried the momentum of the previous one until Yi Yi became a moving tapestry of life. A scene comes to mind between little Yang-Yang and his father that I feel captures Yang as a filmmaker.
"Daddy, I can't see what you see and you can't see what I see. How can I know what you see?"
"That's why we need a camera."