Loaft_King’s review published on Letterboxd:
Memories and the feelings we attribute to them is what makes us human.
After Yang is Kogonada's Solaris. Something that should be a match made in heaven for me, but I can't help but feel that something is missing. Maybe it's the "techosapien" that leaves me a little emotionally distanced, or just the simple fact that I deeply connected to Colombus on a personal level. Both films work as mediations on life and finding meaning with a calming atmosphere to match, but form and message don't align as well here.
The undiscovered beauty, emptiness, and distance between or within the characters was complimented by the cinematography in Colombus. Both characters were trapped in a place in time, and Kogonada's patience and compositions behind the camera reflected that. I was pulled into Casey and Jin's lives, and felt the freedom they felt when they were together. Their conversations were mediations for each other, and for me.
After Yang is less subtle and unfortunately less effective for me. The use of editing, changing aspect ratios, and it's overbearing score doesn't really add anything. We explore the cosmos of Yang's memories but never truly feel like we are in the moment.
The best scene that reminded me of the beauty of Colombus was the conversation about tea. It's a beautiful moment of dialogue removed from everything going on about the idea of deriving meaning from our lives and what we do, a theme present in Colombus. Jake and Yang can't find meaning in the tea like they wish they could. They yearn for more, an understanding, and a passion, like Casey and Jin. The only other similar moment I can think of that worked for was the caterpillars end.
The rest of film are sci-fi musings about being human, the advancement of technology, privacy, and the idea of family. Adoption and culture play an important part, and I could see how someone could connect to it deeply just as I did Colombus. At the end of day, it's my personal connection to both Casey and Jin that moves me along with its cinematography.
Maybe conversations over cigarettes just work better than conversations about tea, even though I don't enjoy either. But, it doesn't matter really per se, either you have strong feelings for something or you don't. I think back to one of my favourite scenes in Colombus where Casey expresses her love for architecture. We didn't need to hear why, it just has to mean something to her. And this just didn't mean as much to me, but I'm sure it did for many.