Yi Yi ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

“You can’t run someone else’s life, dictate how he spends his days... and the one doing it was the one I loved most! Do you know how that hurt inside?”

I just spent three hours totally absorbed in magnificent beauty; in every scene, every passionately choreographed interaction between characters, every moving piece of music, and especially every meaningful word that was said. I couldn’t tear my eyes away, and this film, with all of its intricate depictions of the characters’ lives, felt like it lasted a lifetime — yet simultaneously flew by. I felt for every character as if they were a member of my own family. I wanted to rescue Yang Yang from his bullies, give the mother a warm hug and help her find new joys in everyday life, and comfort Ting Ting so she‘d know that what happened to her grandma was not her fault. Yang gives us such a personal look at each character’s life, packing so much care and humanity into a film unlike I’ve ever seen before.

There are so many beautiful quotes in this film. The one I’ve chosen to include in this review is by no means the best, or most stunning, or most profound. But with every great film we watch, I think we each take something significant away from it. For me, those words above, said by N.J. to his past love, cut deeper than any other part of the story. They are words I wish I could shout aloud, and I will probably think of them often for a long time. A little piece of Yi Yi that will stay with me. 

Yang isn’t afraid to show people in their realest light, and all of the beauty and ugliness that is a part of being alive. That’s what makes this such a special film — it means something very unique to every one of us. He is able to portray the human experience so masterfully, in a way that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put my finger on. Whether it was the way he chose to linger on a particular moment longer than I expected, allowing what I just saw to truly sink in, or how he fades the music away at the perfect pace to ease you into what’s to come. Or that simply gorgeous, long tracking shot of the city that somehow made me feel at home on the other side of the world, in a place I’ve never been.

Whatever it is about this film that makes it have such a huge impact on its audience, I’m deeply grateful. Yi Yi is truly a treasure.

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