ftn046’s review published on Letterboxd:
Yi Yi belongs to a trinity of great films that came out of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the year 2000. The first, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, achieved international mainstream acclaim and success. The Second, Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love, is a gem of beauty that most cinephiles have come to love. This leaves Edward Yang's Yi Yi, which is one of the most criminally underseen movies out there. It is a quiet contemplation of life and all that it entails.
Yi Yi is the story of the Jians, a middle class family living in Taipei. Specifically, we see the story through the father NJ, his teenage daughter Ting-Ting, and his young son Yang-Yang. His wife Min-Min suffers an emotional breakdown and is absent throughout most of the film. NJ struggles with problems during a transitional and unstable period in his professional life, and also finds himself reunited with an old flame from his past through a chance meeting. His daughter Ting-Ting is a shy and reserved girl who is dealing with the difficulties of first love. Yang-Yang is a peculiar young boy with insight beyond his years, who finds himself in some trouble at school while he explores the world around him with the help of his camera. Also present is Ota, a Japanese businessman who becomes a friend and confidant of NJ, and A-Di, NJ's foolish brother-in-law.
Edward Yang earned a well deserved Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, and very quickly you will see why. Yi Yi is an absolutely beautiful film that captures the simplicities of life so very well. How can people in such a densely populated city seem so alone? How are characters that live their lives so far away from me so easily relatable? Yi Yi is a very honest and universal portrait of human life.