Yi Yi ★★★★½

“Why is the world so different from what we thought it was?”

The most revealing moments of Yi Yi are in silence. It's anything but a quiet film, beginning with a loquacious wedding which briefly but generously introduces each of our three main characters, and in turn, the three generations explored throughout the film. But it's the extended pauses between responses, the lingering gazes that are the most expressive and telling about the things that are and can never be with these people.

That's partly the liquidity of the coordination between director Edward Yang, cinematographer Wei-Han Yang, and editor Po-Wen Chen. There's individual camera movements and edits here that I think i'll be thinking about for years in part because they're perfectly timed and executed - but also because they're completely in tune with the emotional being of the characters.

Whether it's the layered surfaces or the camera placed at the periphery of these situations, Yi Yi is filled with moments where the camera seems situated in a way that can observe but doesn't dare disturb the mood and holiness of the moment. Especially in relation with a film that's so enamored with rituals as bookends, that makes all the more sense. This is a film that views shards of life as indispensable to the self while also recognizing that this too will pass - grief, love, and life.

Michael Snydel liked this review