Zachary⚡ Jackson🎃’s review published on Letterboxd:
Yi Yi, 5/5
Yi Yi or a One and a Two, is a movie elegantly extrovert-ing itself as a humanistic film, that never ceases to be charming and empathetic. Yi Yi is what life, in its entirety, feels like. As you age on, regretting and evidently looking back on your decisions, what remains is this sense of happiness of what you have experienced and how happy you were before; yet a twinge of disappointment. No one can enliven the old days, the days of naïve-ness or adolescent puberty. And when those days are over, you feel stuck in this stasis, this ever-lasting stasis of disappointment where you can’t live those days again and can only recount on your bad choices. It’s this mix of feelings that Yi Yi articulates that makes Yi Yi a masterpiece.
The late Edward Shang, has created a humanistic portrayal of age. His raw and natural direction complimented by the very lush atmosphere, creates a sprawling experience held in a bottle for one year. Shang slowly pans the camera just as how slow and enjoyably tedious the film is. And notice how I said “tedious”. Shang creates a narrative that is frankly tedious, but by the time it’s all over, you want to return to the atmosphere and place that Shang created. It’s this calming atmosphere in such a laid back position, which makes Yi Yi an engrossing slow-moving picture and possibly the best of its genre. The simplistic wooden floors, the messy table stocked with mail, the children’s room, the next door neighbors, the movie theater, the cross-walk: we all want to go back there. We experience this one year and just as how NJ recounts his old memories.
Yang presents us with the family. From a baby, to a beaming-ly innocent young little boy, to an able and wanting-to-be-independent adolescent to a grown-up, then to a middle aged man and then to a questioning Japanese man to a fragile grandmother. It’s the scope that Yang presents that makes it seem like an epic. With such a colorful cast, it never ceases to be minimal in any sense. It shows us how we, humans, develop. How we remember, how we repent, how we indulge ourselves, how we lose our values, how we lose our dreams and eventually lose our identity. It’s these broad strokes that helps us not only empathize with the family, but also understand who we are and what we do.
This broadness, helps benefit the story-line by brimming the film with multiple ideals and themes. With each character arc, comes a moral, an ideal. And when each story-line is presenting each ideal, it never comes off as periodic or manufactured or worse, blatantly sappy. It flows very well ultimately surfacing with one universal idea: Live your life without no regrets. Yi Yi is definitely a dense work and I’ll just list a few of the natural themes and thought-provoking questions presented
- The effects of grief
- Why do we make terrible decisions?
- Why do we follow our guts instead of our hearts?
- Why do parents dictate our decisions?
- Fate vs free will
- Do we have control over our decisions?
- Traditional values vs modern values
- What makes us happy?
Yi Yi, although poetic, is a dense calculation. I cannot generalize Yi Yi into a couple of words. The certain words that I say, do not necessarily bring justice to Yi Yi. The only way Yi Yi can be brought justice, is to examine it and experience it. And I hope that more people can watch this masterpiece and if more people watch it, I could make an analysis (if I have the time). Yi Yi proves to me that a film does not necessarily need to have astute style, a complex plot, or anything of high nature: simplicity and the control of such in a regulated manner is equally fantastic. I hope more people experience this brilliant articulation of life itself. Watch the trailer, and if you like the music accompanying each scene, then you will like this movie:
And even watching the trailer, I want to see it again. Beautiful film, in my eyes. And if you see it, and enjoyed it as much as I do…. then I get more validation that what I do is actually affecting people! Have a happy Groundhog’s Day! (Just being completely random here. I don’t want to resort my review into a solidly honest and emotional written piece of written writing riddled with pseudo-intellectualism. PFFT! I need to balance it out with quirks and dumb goofs😂😂)