Film Club Review – Yi Yi
Yi Yi is a Taiwanese film about a family during the time of their grandmother’s stroke and how their lives unfold during that time period. This film is what I call a non-epic epic; it is a deep and all encompassing look at a situation which is really rather normal with not very many things happening. Of course there are a few bigger events in the movie; a wedding, a birth, a crime, a death. However, none of these are really that far removed from normal life.
After about an hour, I finally realized what this movie was really about: restrictions. Yi Yi’s main theme is how we allow ourselves to be limited and restricted by society and by ourselves and those close to us. The director Yang shows us this through both plot devices, such as the brother-in-law marrying a girl who he knocked up rather than the girl he had a real connection with, and subtle nuances, such as the traffic crosswalk which always kept the daughter at a distance from a certain teenage boy. Once I realized that this was what the movie was about, everything fell into place and every scene made sense and provided a service to that theme.
The one problem with this film may be its length. Running at nearly three hours, the pace is too slow to go on that long. that’s not to say the pacing is bad, mind you. The pacing is perfect for the tone of this movie, just perhaps not for the length of the movie. However, by the end of the movie I didn’t really mind. Once each of the characters’ storylines reached their emotional peaks at the end, I realized just how much I had grown connected with them, especially the father, sister and little brother (who is perhaps the only one who truly recognizes the restrictions of life and chooses to fight against them). This movie does a wonderful job of saying a lot when on the surface it seems like it isn’t saying much at all.