‘After Yang’ is a Brilliant Character Study on Grief
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson
Sundance Synopsis: When Yang — a lifelike, artificially intelligent android that Jake and Kyra buy as a companion for their adopted daughter — abruptly stops functioning, Jake just wants him repaired quickly and cheaply. But having purchased Yang “certified refurbished” from a now-defunct store, he’s led first to a conspiracy theorist technician and then a technology museum curator, who discovers that Yang was actually recording memories. Jake’s quest eventually becomes one of existential introspection and contemplating his own life, as it passes him by.
Writer/Director Kogonada understands that the futuristic can serve as a perfect frame for the quietly despondent and emotionally vibrant. After Yang takes an engrossing short story and adapts it into a breathtakingly gorgeous sci-fi film aimed right at the parts of our psyche we don't pay nearly enough attention.
Here, the technology acts as a soft component of this vivid backdrop and a gateway through which the audience becomes immersed in the narrative. For all the story's sadness it's just as hopeful a journey into what holds a family together. This is a family in transition and watching them come to terms with the consequences of their unwitting choices offers compelling insight into identity, family and grief.
Kogonada's sense of fun is readily apparent in what might be the best title sequence ever in a film. Yet, After Yang superbly translates the essence of loss, and deepens the allegory about our dependence and attachment to technology at the heart of Weinstein's story. This is an adaptation with heart and soul.
*this review is updated from The MTR Network's Sundance 2022 coverage.
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