Soumajit Nath’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sometimes few films have just become too much inexplicable that it seems impossible to rate them by any of proper explanations, there you do have to rate them by an impulse, the immediate thought which you get from that sensation, just has passed over you! AFTER YANG belongs to such rare category movies which don't try to be anything superfluous but eventually indeed has become something much deeper than one may has ever imagined; eventhough the very limit of that ceaselessly outspreaded horizon seems to be close enough in our eyesights..but when you're just about to start your journey in order to reach to the horizon line, you can only then able to get that intimation of getting lost as when you, in real, actually take the first initiative for your anticipated journey...you will see that more you approaching nearer to the horizon more that line has kept on shifting to further away. The line will further keep on shifting from point one to the next point till all the way up to the eternity. Those same feelings of getting lost in an endless well of intense thoughts and deeper philosophies of life and mortality, caught on me right at every steps as I watching AFTER YANG. There's really overall a very little to observe...but it's a way lot more of everything which one can feel out of this little ambiguous family drama that's more or less focused on a family contained people from different cultures, undergoing such various degrees of grieving after a loss which looks so little to be considered for but means a lot for the family in centre.
Video essayist turned director Kogonada's AFTER YANG has some dream like qualities..yes, that dreamspace where humans wouldn't further be separated by means of their cultures and races, the dream where love and compassion are the only driving forces that cherish the humanity's core essence, that dream where humanity would going to overcome their shortcomings by spreading only love and care for eachothers..the dream where humans and bots; Chinese, white or black; dreams and memories..all have become inseparable and seem to be blended and mixed together in order to find redemption from all those violence and wars of the past decades. This adaptation of the short story “Saying Goodbye to Yang” by Alexander Weinstein takes place in a future world with technology that doesn’t exist in today..so here "past" is in actual become the world in today and our distant "future" is become the highlighted "present" of this cinema which's also seemed as atmost believable!! Thus AFTER YANG is better be said as one of the most present day science fiction films, released in recent times. Well, the comparison of past, present and future here has gotten all muddled up. But the themes, all together with this non linear structure of the narrative...mostly following the swifty randomness of over passed memories, have been presented in such a perfect as well as satisfactory way that there's no point of denying the relevance factors of this very simple story with the present day gradually increasing scopes for grieving triggered by innumerable losses from past two years.
The dialogues are mostly alluring, where with the surrealmost cinematography from Benjamin Loeb accompanied with gorgeous music by ASKA and Ryuichi Sakamoto...all those memories of Yang when starts descending on one after another infront of Jake's(Collin Farwell) observant's eyes...then he has no way out besides experiencing those volatile memories of their faithful subservient who's now in dead state. Unlike any other animal species, human has a different heart, a different way of understanding, a different knowledge to judge everything and a different way to express emotions..but all the way through violence and by means of destruction in all these previous years humans seem to forget how to be humane to eachother..they forgot to love! But humanity never ceased to exist in it's purest form and shape...it's all getting just suppressed, all emotions are getting compressed and the way they interact, there's no sign of care and compassion...problem about this days is noone cares about noone. But in near future maybe things will be getting better instead of getting worsen than before. Perhaps at someday human will understand the beauty of human interactions..and maybe, they will take help from some super fancy “techno sapiens”, a bot like creation with logical development of tech resembling Alexa to an android form, best can be defined as a companion who can assist around the house, take care of you, learn new habits, and even provide a course for your adopted child to help her to learn her real culture.
His name is Yang, who's been bought by Jake and his wife Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith), just only to babysit their newly adopted Chinese daughter, Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja). Yang soon has become an inseparable person for this household...his explanations and reasonable justifications of curious questions of the little Mika, are overwhelming and also delve deeper in a philosophical point of view as well. Like the moments where Yang puts an impressive analogy of grafting in plants to make her understood about how necessary it's for her to understand both of the cultures and lifestyles of her adopted family as well as the root from where she really belongs too. The moments like these at once give AFTER YANG a beautiful poem like indefinable yet so meaningful structure. More you focus on, more you will feel lost from rest of the film...strange, isn't it?! But it's been true for me, as then my focus on a particular statement at a particular instant takes me at another place out of the world, shrounded by intense understandings, beautiful thoughts and endless emotions.
Most of the film is about Colin Farrell's empty minded Jake's explorations of unraveling brightest glory of humanity namely love and compassion in his heart and soul. It's really been a delight to witness his rough character's ductile nature as he finally gets completely melted down by a warm hug of few of the old memories of someone close to him. The only reason why AFTER YANG is been getting so touchy at the end is because of the portrayal of honest reality of humanity in a sincere way through. Like, for example, most of us offcourse must has someone very close in our life..but do we really appreciate their existence in our lives? We only realise their importance after they've left us a foreverbearing void!! And it's an eternal truth for all of the mankind. We do realise about the importance of loving and caring but only then when we've noone left to love or care for. It's an interesting but fascinating thought and AFTER YANG amalgamates these series of beautiful thoughts by make us witnessed some of the wonderful moments with all of these sensational characters talking to each other. Farrell, being exactly perfect, here, delivers most of the intensive drama but Jodie Turner-Smith's promising character, Kyra has been getting cold since from the beginning where I was just about to think about the meaninglessness of her character in here...but very soon for my surprise, she also finds a shore in the ocean like fleeting memories of her's, spending with deceased Yang and when she gets nostalgic, she along with Yang delivers most vital and fascinating segment of overall movie. They talk about high philosophical interpretations of meaninglessness as well as importance of life as Yang mentioned one of the quotes that's been attributed to Lao Tzu: “What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” It's an observation that how a different species is in the procession of adapting the human lifestyle, gets atfirst infatuated by the most glorifying qualities of humanity which half of the humanity allready has been about to forget in the meantime. Yang has been trying a lot to develop himself while trying to grow more out of being stereotypical, as he's further moving away from the precise details of his coding to the imprecision of humanity by making some of the smallest moments like capturing a family portrait by an old camera and exploring the taste of tea, memorable enough!
Only words echoing in my ears since I've finished watching AFTER YANG is:
“There’s no something without nothing.”
So touching, so deep! And I can think no more!