A One and a Two...
Wedding banquet. The Jians begin a voyage as both individuals and a family (l to r: Lee, Wu, Chang, Jin).

Yi Yi
dir-scr Edward Yang
with Wu Nianzhen, Elaine Jin, Jonathan Chang, Kelly Lee, Ko Su-Yun, Chang Yu-Pang, Issey Ogata, Adrian Lin, Chen Hsi-Sheng, Tseng Hsin-Yi, Tang Ru-Yun, Hsiao Shu-shen
release US 6.Nov.00; UK 6.Apr.01
00/Taiwan 2h53
5 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

a one and a two... A nearly three-hour long Chinese film isn't most people's idea of a good night at the cinema, but Edward Yang's personal epic is a real stunner. Not a moment of the film is boring, even as it stays close in on the lives and longings of one family in Taipei. At the centre is NJ (Wu), a 30something computer executive who has been very successful but wonders if he chose the right path through life. Especially when at a family wedding he runs into his old girlfriend (Ko). Meanwhile, NJ's wife (Jin) is struggling to cope with her elderly mother (Tang), while their teen daughter (Lee) and 8-year-old son (Chang) are going through their own very private journeys.

Every frame of this film is carefully crafted to bring us into the internal lives of the characters--and the result is involving, moving and, in an unusual way, gripping. Even with such a vast group of important people swirling around, Yang makes sure we know who everyone is and how they all interrelate. We get into their heads in an honest, often funny and remarkably engaging way that makes the film both a fantastic examination of middle class Asians and a universal examination of human connection and isolation. Yang's visual sense is astonishing--the film is gorgeous! And the soundtrack features rich, lush music that blends perfectly with the film's overall jazzy tone. In fact, the structure and style are so sure-handed that the film recalls Magnolia in scope and emotional punch, complete with open-handed performances from the entire cast. It's simply impossible not to identify with each character's struggle, with their hopes, regrets, desires, frustrations, curiosities and weaknesses. A remarkable film.
themes, language cert 15 5.Apr.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall