Film Review – After Yang (2021)

What’s it like to be human? It’s a question Kogonada’s After Yang attempts to unearth an answer to. The spellbinding sci-fi morality drama that asks us to dive deep into our hearts. With humanity’s relationship with artificial life is put to the test.

There is no hiding from it, we are all going to die one day. Death is part of our lives, sometimes we are exposed to that  grief too early. Then again when is the right time? Events in our lives can easily change us sometimes drastically. Other times it can make us stronger or we simply lose grip of what was before. When we attempt to cope,  we try to have a firm grip of those memories before time steals them from us.

After Yang stars Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith as Jake and Kyra. Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja AS Mika their adopted daughter Mika with Justin H.Min as the titular Yang. Based on a short story by Alexander Weinstein, we find ourselves in the near future. A family buy a their daughter a refurbished android (or techno sapien ) to help her learn about her Chinese culture. Yang is like a big brother to Mika who learns her to be human. Like humans, Yang malfunctions leaving his little sister in tears and distressed.

Jake desperately tries to find someone to fix Mika’s big brother. Thanks to his neighbour he finds an unauthorised technician willing to repair him. He does find some sort of spyware and that software has Yang’s memories. Thus pushing Jake to question and look at his own life forcing him to reconnect with his own family.

The opening credits scene is colourfully kinetic dance scene. The families and characters dance -off to techno music reminds us of Oscar Isaac dance in ex_machina.

After Yang is a deeply muted melancholic film. A relaxing film that feels like it tries play as if child like pace. Time for us to soak in the thematic themes the film has. Like grief, many of us need time to mourn, understand, meditate and learn with what has happened.

We will always cherish memories of those loved ones that have passed. It’s a film anchored in emotion, acceptance and technology as in artificial life will be part of family as much as the dog or cat nowadays. The human soul is the centre of Kogonada’s film as much as asking us to re connect with our loved ones.

Visually the world is set in a time which only teases the technology advancements. The whole look is minimal from the subtle colour schemes to the Scandinavian interiors that could be easily from that world famous DIY store from the same part of the world. It does come with an Asian touch with a balance like Yin and yang.

After Yang is a beautifully haunting film, exquisitely explores grief, and what it takes to be human. Poignantly and delicately delivered and a reminder life is mysterious.

★★★★

Sci-fi, Drama | USA, 2021 | PG | Cinema, Sky Cinema | 22nd September 2022 (UK) | SKY Cinema Original | Dir.Kogonada | Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Just H.Min , Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja

This review was originally posted on The Peoples Movies on 26th September 2022 | Original review link

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