non secular sci-fi with a super-smooth soundtrack

What does all of it imply? Life, dying, reminiscence, household, love, loss and time all unfold gently round one another in Kogonada’s fantastically wrought sci-fi – a film that additionally opens with a 5-minute shot of Colin Farrell enjoying the Simply Dance online game together with his adopted robotic son.

Contradictions abound in After Yang, which is filled with questions with out solutions and disappointment with out launch. As delicate as a whisper, it’s typically extra metaphysical tone poem than straight-up sci-fi, but the entire thing hangs closely on a thread of future-tech cyborg storytelling.

Farrell, then, is Jake – a tea store proprietor in a soft-focus future the place the whole lot appears to be like like the within of a Muji retailer. Jodie Turner-Smith is Jake’s spouse, Kyra, and Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) and Yang (Justin H. Min) are their two adopted kids. Additionally, Yang is the aforementioned robotic.

After Yang
You’ll need to watch the ‘Simply Dance’ scene in ‘After Yang’ on repeat. CREDIT: Sky

Purchased by Jake and Kyra as an immediate older brother for Mika, Yang serves as a cultural bridge for the Chinese language-born toddler – serving to her to know her roots. The issue comes when Yang begins questioning his personal sense of self, elevating questions concerning the morality of synthetic intelligence alongside stickier problems with consciousness, function and what it means for any of us to be alive.

And that’s simply the beginning. When Yang breaks down, Jake goes to get him mounted and finds a hidden chip inside his head that lets him replay brief snippets of reminiscences that regularly open the story even wider. Hints of previous lives and loves ship Jack on a detective mission to be taught extra about Yang’s origins, and a lot of the movie performs in flashback (and reminiscence financial institution TikTok montage) as we uncover deeper layers of reality and that means.

Flowing easily to Aska Matsumiya’s ambient synth rating (and sometimes to Mitski’s ‘Glide’, which turns into the movie’s important theme), After Yang feels easy. Directed with mild grace by critic and essayist Kogonada (who additionally made the architecturally excellent Columbus in 2017), it’s not a movie to hurry watching or simply neglect – even because it niggles with how uncomfortable the whole lot turns into.

After Yang
Jodi Turner-Smith in ‘After Yang’. CREDIT: Sky

Self-driving vehicles and the occasional glimpse of a futuristic cityscape remind you that you simply’re watching science-fiction, however After Yang is about as removed from each different robotic story as it will probably get. Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Synthetic Intelligence is an apparent touchstone, however Kogonada is clearly drawing his personal inspirations from one thing extra non secular and fragile.

That is bleak, dystopian stuff (filled with heat interiors which might be all oddly chilly), however the level right here isn’t to make Jake and Kyra’s household seem distant. That is all of our tales – and Farrell and Turner-Smith do a superb job of anchoring the whole lot in deep emotion.

Genuinely shifting from the very starting, count on to depart After Yang in a flood of tears. Count on, additionally, to spend the remainder of the evening questioning all of the issues that nobody actually likes serious about. And, after all, to need to maintain rewatching that dance scene on repeat.


  • Director: Kogonada
  • Starring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min
  • Launch date: September 22 (in cinemas and on Sky Cinema)

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