Ethan’s review published on Letterboxd:
I finally saw this on the big screen and when the credits rolled no one dared to move. No one.
Edit: it’s the morning after and I have been able to gather my thoughts about why this film is so remarkable. It takes one truly masterful director to be able to capture the world of a film through multiple perspectives. Not only are each of the protagonists in vastly different checkpoints in each of their own spiritual trajectories, Yang also allows us to see the similarities and dovetails that bind generations. In Asian/Chinese culture, we often hear from adults that the youth always have it ‘easier’ and that the conflicts of YAs are nothing compared to the greater tribulations of the middle-aged/elderly. It’s incredibly moving to see Yang be able to sympathize with each age group. By capturing each generation through a relatively objective voice, he allows us to see each generation purely as it is. He sees each of his characters’ struggles AND validates it.
One of the other truly masterful strokes of this film is the constant push and pull between lightness and heaviness. A murder outside an apartment building is told through an almost comical animated sequence on the news; the wisest contemplation on death is told through the innocence of a child. In the spirit of Italo Calvino, Yang treats his operatic, maudlin themes with subtlety, grace, and lightness.
This is truly such a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see it again.