James Healey’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film 3 of 48 for August Challenge. User: Shervin Ghiami
"Movies are so lifelike, that's why we love them"
"Then who needs movies? Just stay home and live life!"
Because movies can be much more interesting than real life, despite the fact truth is stranger than fiction. I have been getting into the bad habit of starting reviews with quotes, but to be honest some them are just to damn fucking good not to mention them. The scene that quote is from may just be the best scene in Yi Yi(besides the final scene) in my opinion.
Yi Yi is essentially the film equivalent for a "slice of life" anime. The fact that everyone is Asian also helps my case. Yi Yi shows life through the perspectives of a father, a young son, and a teenage daughter. Out of all three of these characters, I feel that Yang-Yang is the strongest character. Yang-Yang tries to understand life through an adult's eyes and asks many thought provoking questions for someone of his age. By the last line of the film, spoken by Yang-Yang, he had my eyes getting watery. It just shows how mature a character can be, even when they are that young. I barely touched the surface talking about the characters, because there is so much to say, but I have found myself at a loss for words because I am still in such awe from watching this.
One of the most important things in Yi Yi is camera placement. Scenes are shot in such a way where the audiences is forced to focus on one thing, but rather what ever they choose in the scene. Edward Yang also makes sure that in many scenes the viewer can only see “half of what’s going on.” Many times he uses reflection to show other things happening in the film. Throughout the film Yang-Yang takes pictures of the back of peoples' heads to show them the other half they cannot see.
Another crucial scene is Ota’s card “trick. Ota states that their is no "trick" involved, and that he just memorized where the cards will be. The beauty of this scene is that it is a single take. Yang does not use any tricks when filming, just like Ota.
There are so many things I have not talked about, and I find it impossible to cover them all after just one viewing. Yi Yi is filled with real characters, a touching story, and masterful camera placement that shows us much more than the average film. To put it simply, Yi Yi is a masterpiece, and one of the greatest films I will ever see.