Directed by Edward Yang • 2000
I had heard about Yi Yi here and there from books, critics, and online articles, but never made an effort to see it. It was until I found it mentioned in numerous “Best of the Decade” lists that the film sparked my curiosity. Thank goodness for internet surfing! Yi Yi is without a doubt a classic of the new century, but now also one of my favorite films.
The story follows three generations of a middle-class family in Taipei, as they experience the patterns of daily life: love, loss, friendship, loneliness, joy, sorrow, birth and death. Despite its seemingly simple premise and three-hour runtime, the film is completely engrossing. There are at least six separate story lines going on, but every single one of them is interesting. Even the large cast of characters are fully developed individuals that you could meet on the street. Watching Yi Yi was one of the rare experiences where I did not want it to stop. Though it takes place in Taipei, the film is relatable to people of all walks of life, so much so that I was reduced to tears by the end. I rarely cry during movies, but somehow somewhere Yi Yi struck a chord.
Sadly, director Edward Yang passed away in 2007 from colon cancer. But if there was one film in his career to go out on, Yi Yi would be it. Never before have the experiences of daily life been so authentically and beautifully rendered on the silver screen, which is why Yi Yi is so enduring. I connected so much with it that I kept thinking throughout the film, “I wish I had made this.”