Wesley R. Ball’s review published on Letterboxd:
A film like this shouldn't work. It should be long, drawn out, boring, and have no interesting story to fill its nearly three hour runtime. Yet, somehow, Edward Yang has created an epic drama filled with all kinds of intricate subplots, complete with heartbreaking twists and turns, and we get one of the most beautiful chronicles I have ever seen.
"Yi Yi" begins with a wedding, ends with a funeral, and examines all kinds of facets of human life and interactions in between. The story is seen through the eyes of three different characters: NJ, a father who is dissatisfied with his work and the business decisions of his partners; Yang-Yang, his young son who falls in love with a school classmate; and Ting-Tin, the slightly rebellious teenage daughter.
Throughout its 173 minute runtime, Yi Yi never fails to keep your attention. Just when you think a scene is going to start dragging or become boring or monotonous, the film switches on you, changing to another character's perspective. It is this constant shift of characters that provides some sort of excitement to the film, which is interesting since it is a dramatic character study (which is usually slow and thoughtful.) That's not to say, however, that Yi Yi isn't a thoughtful film. Quite the opposite, actually. The way that Yang has created each character's individual stories and plights really is fascinating when played out on screen, and in the end we get a gorgeous story that is guaranteed to break your heart in the end.