YI YI (pronounced E E)
Edward Yang's award winning masterpiece follows the lives of NJ Jian his wife, Min-Min, and their two kids who share their Taipei apartment with Min-Min's elderly mother. Now in his mid-forties, NJ is a partner in a computer hardware firm, which made big profits last year but will soon go bankrupt if it doesn't change direction. Things start to go wrong for the Jians on the day that Min-Min's brother A-Di gets married. That's the day when Min-Min's mother suffers a stroke and is rushed to the hospital in a coma from which she may never awaken. It's also the day when NJ bumps into his childhood sweetheart, a woman (now married to an American) he hasn't seen for twenty years. In the following weeks, the entire family will have to re-evaluate who they are and what they have allowed their lives to become . -Back of the box spin. Yi Yi is an incredible odyssey into the ordinary that draws you into the lives of the Jians and those of their extended family. The storyline so expertly portrayed by the assembled cast runs you through a full gamut of emotions as well. Yi Yi is an extremely well crafted story that gets better and better as each moment of the film's 2 hours and 51 minutes ticks away. Edward Yang's film is easily one of the most beautifully woven tapestries on the normalcies of life that's ever been put to film. As one reviewer put it, ("When it's over, you'll wish it wasn't.") I wholeheartedly agree. Yi Yi is an incredible piece of filmmaking that is good straight through to the end titles. (Am I gushing enough!)
The film's audio is presented in a DD2.0 Mandarin language track with English Subs. The dialogue is all very well presented and easily understood. A Director's Commentary featuring Edward Yang is included. This is Yang's first commentary but You couldn't tell it from the ease with which he discussed his film. Throughout the commentary track there are "gaps" of silence where Yang is merely waching the film "along with the viewer". The "gaps" are however, bracketed by his explanations regarding everything from his choice of actors to the title of the movie. Now about the title... Yi Yi, (so named because it's the first phrase found in every Chinese dictionary.)By strict definition, means, individuality which, is the main theme employed throughout the film. Throughout Yi Yi Yang utilizes universal/global themes then shows the individual application as it affects each participant within the story. The end result is a captivating and wonderfully involving film that leaves you wanting more of the experience you've just witnessed. Yang's commentary track is definitely a first rate effort and an enjoyable visit to the Director's chair.
Unlike the audio/dialogue/commentary tracks The film's video portion is the seat of ongoing controversy. Evidently, the initial editions of the disc had an incredibly poor transfer that marred the ability of the viewer to capture Yang's truest intent. While I am unaware as to a resolution of the issue, the edition I reviewed for all intents and purposes was fair to good in it's presentation. The colors were not dead on and at times gave way to bleeding. There was minimal edge enhancement and flecking but none to the degree that made the film unwatchable. Additionally, a notice regarding the film's "questionable" transfer is included on the disc as well. In any event, While the visuals were not reference quality, the transfer errors that I noticed did not interfere with my watching/enjoyment of the film.
The only extras on the disc are filmographies, production notes, the aforementioned Director's Commentary track as well as the film's theatrical trailer.
Visual errors aside, Yi Yi is an excellent film that is worthy of all the accolades it has received. While three hours is a long time to sit through any film, It's time well spent here. Without question Yi Yi is simply beautiful in its scope, substance and execution. Truly the simplicity of the actions onscreen are the film's genious and greatest asset. I thoroughly enjoyed Yi Yi and I beleive you will as well.