Quick recap: Three generations of a Taiwanese family go through every sort of hardship you can imagine. It’s like Degrassi but not Canadian and a serious lack of teen pregnancy. On the plus side, no Drake!
Fun (?) fact: Most of the actors in the movie were relatively unknown at the time. The director did this to add to the realism of the film.
My thoughts: ‘3 hour movie about a family with hardships’, I texted my husband, adding a very bored emoji to the end of the sentence for emphasis. You know the one I’m talking about. He texted back in sympathy, but I knew I was on my own. ‘There better be a few deaths,’ I muttered to myself and then settled in.
The first half hour of the film was very hard to follow because there were so many characters and because the subtitles were confusing. I was finally able to identify the main characters and that helped somewhat: NJ, the father, his wife Min-Min and their two kids Ting-Ting and Yang-Yang, Min-Min’s mother and also A-Di, the brother. Throughout the course of the movie each character will go through something life changing, and each hardship will be dealt with almost completely alone. It sounds like every melodrama ever, but for some reason it works in Yi-Yi. I especially loved how each storyline was separate and yet it weaved in and out with the other story lines, yet nothing felt overblown or……well,melodramatic.
Although NJ is the main character, it is the grandmother I was most drawn to. She is onscreen for barely 10 minutes before suffering a major stroke. The rest of the film is her laying in the apartment, breathing tubes and feeding tubes hooked up to her. As her family seemingly crumbles around her, she continues to lay in a coma and thus becomes the perfect listener. Her grand daughter, Ting-Ting feels guilt from the beginning because she feels she has caused the stroke. She asks for her grandmother’s forgiveness several times and is finally granted it at the end of the film. Ting-Ting’s mother, Min-Min, has a spiritual crisis that manifests itself after she realizes how boring her life is. There were so many heartbreaking scenes, but this one did it for me. There was something so sincere about Min-Min as she realized she was supposed to care for her mother by talking to her, and yet had nothing to say because everything was the same. At this point, it was easy to forget I was watching a movie as it begin to feel more like a documentary.
The little boy in the film, Yang-Yang, is probably the cutest kid ever. I’m generally weary of cute child actors, but I loved this one from the beginning. After coming to the conclusion that people will never see their full reality, he decides to take pictures of things people don’t generally see: mosquitos and the back of people’s heads. Yang-Yang is in constant trouble at school and it isn’t until the final scene of the film where everything comes together and I saw how misunderstood his actions were. I won’t give away the ending, although it’s really not much of a surprise, but I will say that I’m glad the movie ended realistically and not all perfectly wrapped up.
Final review: 4/5. Most people would love Yi-Yi, but the length is a little long. Nothing felt too drawn out but it’s still a lot to ask for in an audience.
Up next: The Sting. Don’t forget to send in your movie suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting on a post!