Yi Yi

First of all, and this is not really a reflection on the film, I have a major pet peeve with films that give subtitles for their primary language, but when the dialog switches to English, it stops. Even when watching films in English, I like having subtitles on, so getting only half of them in some films drives me nuts.

Despite this unintentional flaw, this movie was perfect.

Following three characters in the same family--the patriarch, the young son, and a teenage daughter--the film shows a long period of their lives filled with small triumphs and heavy tragedies, missed chances and imperfect perspectives.

Dissatisfaction drives each of the characters in one way or another at pivotal moments in their lives. NJ, the patriarch, finds work unfulfilling because the atmosphere of greed has changed the way of things; his honorable tendencies no longer quite fit. Ting-Ting finds herself unable to accept forgiveness from her comatose grandmother, bringing stress and worry into her life. And Yang-Yang, the brightest spot in the film, finds that he wants to show people what they cannot see for themselves. In the end, NJ becomes removed from his work, Ting-Ting finds peace in a stunning moment of connection, and Yang-Yang opens up where he could not before.

In between, they encounter all manner of everyday troubles, and a few extraordinary ones. The film takes its time in reveling in every moment, letting scenes slowly fade into the background as the characters move from the foreground into the distance, showing us a fuller picture than we'd ever get in real life. It allows us to appreciate the lives of these ordinary people much more than they do in the moment, but also illustrates to us how they come to find peace despite their imperfect understanding.

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