Yi Yi Reviews
However it's too long.
There are other issues as well. One more aspect that reminded me of Boyhood was the way they had young people sharing conversations that no one their age would ever have. In fact the youngest member of the family has more profound lines than anyone else in the movie. It just feels too scripted, particularly in a movie that is attempting to capture real life. My other difficulty with Yi Yi was the shot selection. Edward Yang seemingly enjoys setting the camera down on a tripod, then having his actors stand about 30 feet away and act out a scene without moving the camera when someone steps out of the shot. I guess it gives a fly-on-the-wall feel to our view of the film, but it also kept me emotionally detached from the actors. However, the real dilemma is that 3-hour length. There wasn't enough plot to fill that quantity of time, even though they were trying to tell at least three different stories at once. It's 30 minutes of good content thinly spread over 3 hours of film. I will admit there were snippets that worked for me. I particularly liked when they overlaid the father talking about the memory of his first love with images of his daughter going through the same thing. Also anything the young boy did, while a little deep and philosophical for his age, was fun to watch. I just don't think I could ever ask another human being to sit through this film. Yi Yi, while critically acclaimed, won't draw in the average movie-goer like me.
First time I see this work from Edward Yang, one of the leading names of contemporary Cinema of Taiwan, whom I completely ignored until now. It brought "A Separation" from Asghar Farhadi back to my memory, another movie which also depicts the everyday hurdles of a family and with reminiscent aesthetics although not as fleshed out and subtle... I felt that movie was trying to achieve something similar but in much lesser scale, and yet it failed to exert in me a positive impression like the charming "Yi Yi". The thing that lacked in the iranian movie was present in the taiwanese in just the right doses to add that touch of nuance so necessary for the authenticity of human relations: affection/tenderness between people of different genders. You'd think this is a ridiculously basic thing to bi**h about, anyway to me any serious familiar drama must be able to depict the fundamental reason why families are formed: love between different gender people (assuming we're talking about hetero relationships, of course). This can be shown in all sorts of subtle ways, but it was almost non-existent in "A Separation", and at times women seemed to have a sort of manly manner to their way of being... very very weird and of putting to me. This, among other things, very much limited the power of persuasion and the ability to touch me of the iranian work, I didn't connect, it felt flat and boring. I guess the fact that it was a familiar drama filmed almost as a sort of thriller didn't help, there's nothing thrilling in familiar quotidian life, it's mostly emotional, an aspect where it felt short for me. All this just to say that contrary to "A Separation", "Yi Yi" is pretty much a perfect family drama, but pointing out this mere evidence (in my eyes) is an insult to the taiwanese work, it's much! more than that. I see "Yi Yi" as a bigger, better, easier to live through, a truly satisfying cinematic experience.
"Yi Yi" is an epic drama story, the focus of attention are the life probations of a family where kids, adults and an old lady are all main characters of life and they go through many eye opening experiences that touch us, amuse us, humiliate us, intrigue us, makes us think... life lessons. It lasts for 3 hours and although this amount of time actually seems small for the thematic ambition of this work, Edward Yang manages to develop each theme, human relation, challenge with sensibility and intelligence, in a calm and confident pace and leave nothing left to say. There's indeed no need to say anything more, the premiss is fully fulfilled, by the time the movie ends we are left with the feeling of having watched something as epic, deep and bittersweet as life itself with an extra alluring spell carved by the wonderful cinematic mastery of Yang. The only thing I'd wish to be changed is the soundtrack, it's a bit too trivial, it almost cheapens the experience for me, but maybe I'm being excessively critical here, probably just a matter of taste. Fortunately it lasts little time and it's easy to forget... That's the only complain, all other technical aspects are more than good enough, the acting is excellent all around. What a wonderful movie, I highly recommend it!