After Yang - Parenting & Personhood in Kogonada's Sustainable Future

Anyone else watched this movie starring Colin Farrell and directed by Kogonada (Columbus)?

It’s a meditative story about a family in the near future made up of a white father (Farrell) a black mother (Jodie Turner-Smith), their eight-year-old(?) adopted Chinese daughter, and their “cultural technosapien”–an artificial organic robot named Yang. Yang appears Chinese and is full of “fun facts” about China, having originally been acquired by the family to help the daughter Mika learn about her Chinese heritage. When Yang breaks down, to the dismay of everyone–but especially young Mika–Farrell’s Jake chases down the mystery of what and who Yang actually, you know, is.

Kogonada has a Wes Anderson-like penchant for mid shots with straight-on camera angles, but without Anderson’s cheeky detachment–somehow they communicate warmth and empathy and relatability. After Yang also continues Kogonada’s obvious obsession with architecture from Columbus, this time with the mid-century California houses of Joseph Eichler being employed to show a seemingly more balanced, sustainable, less commercial world than the one we live in. The film doesn’t make a big deal about its sci-fi premises, it just shows them to you, and shows you people navigating them.

The whole cast is impeccable, including the great Haley Lu Richardson (also from Columbus) as a woman with a mysterious connection to Yang. I found the score, by Aska Matsumiya, to be incredibly moving. Some of the shots of the family’s house with the piano theme tinkling away were… I’m going to say “painfully beautiful” and for once not mean it as a cliche, but quite literally. It kind of made me upset, to think about what a sloppy and ugly home I have. Actually, the one flaw of the film may be that its environments are a bit too perfect, but I’m not sure I’d want it to change.

Not everyone will be into After Yang’s ruminative approach or its low-key mystery, I suppose. But still I think the central questions it poses are relatable and intriguing, and that a lot of different kinds of viewers would walk away from this movie with appreciation. It the only movie this year that comes close to giving Everything Everywhere All At Once a run for its money.

Thanks for the info! Columbus was really interesting so I’ll be sure to check out this new film.