Monday 25 June 2018 11.55pm
‘Yi Yi, Ting Ting, Yang Yang’ 2018
Yi Yi: A One and a Two (1999)
An Edward Yang Film
Top 100 Films –
Yi Yi [aka. A One and a Two] (1999) is equal #93 with Intolerance (1916), Un chien andalou (1928), Madame de… (1953), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), The Seventh Seal (1957), Touki Bouki (1973), Fear Eats the Soul (1974) and Imitation of Life (1959) in the 2012 BFI Critics Poll.
Yi Yi (1999) is a drama about a family living in Taipei with various in-laws and incidental characters interrupting any hope of tranquility. It begins with a wedding, which is quickly followed by a stroke, has a lot of drama for a father and his two children, and ends with a funeral. It particularly focuses on NJ (the father), Yang Yang (his son) and Ting Ting (his daughter). The film moves between three episodes in the lives of these three people, unified by the bad news, that NJ’s mother-in-law has become ill and fallen into a coma.
The film is full of words and lovely, (seemingly) beautiful, images. The words are not relentless. There is a lot of space for thinking as well.
The words come from different sources, sometimes from someone talking to their comatose grandmother, and sometimes a narrative from a documentary at school, and sometimes philosophical words from a brilliant man NJ is hoping will sign with his company. There is great frankness and honesty in their discussions which reveals that it’s rare, not usual, to find these qualities.
It’s a film that focuses on lost things; or losing things and trying to find them; trying to make new things; or trying to reclaim something now, that meant something truly meaningful, once.
I feel like I need to watch Yi Yi again to understand it’s many levels. My energy was very low as I watched the film.
Also, the print I had access to was of a very low quality, so it was difficult to appreciate great beauty in the images because of the low definition. It was easier to appreciate composition rather than cinematography. Like the other films I’ve seen, it was not done the same justice because I didn’t watch it on a big screen like almost every other film and I didn’t have the best copy available.
I will revisit this film. At this stage, I don’t see an immediate greatness although several sequences I found either delightful, fascinating or profound. Other aspects left me feeling disconnected and dry. But that was probably my problem, something I brought to the film, and not a fault in the film.