Colin Farrell’s fame may have originally been established his good looks and his appeal to ladies menbut the 45-year-old Irish actor’s most impressive performances – in Terrence Malicks the new world and Yorgos Lanthimos’ the lobster– have explored a deep source of torment and fear, loneliness and longing. It’s these qualities that writer/director Kogonada capitalizes on After Yang (March 4, in theaters and on Showtime), a melancholy sci-fi tale (based on Alexander Weinstein’s short story Saying Goodbye to Yang) about a family forced to deal with the irreparable malfunction of their robotic “technosapical “Member’s Reconciliation, Yang (Justin H. Min). An unusual study in loss and alienation, complemented by the same meticulousness that Kogonada showed to his prior Columbusit’s a meditative exploration of what makes us who we are and what binds us together – issues that are movingly brought to the fore through the headliner’s standout performance.
Farrell is Jake, a tea shop owner with an uncertain future who lives with his wife Kyra (Jodie Turner Smith), her adopted daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja), and Mika’s Inhuman sibling Yang, a “cultural techno” that Jake and Kyra bought – “certified obsolete” – to provide their daughter with a companion to teach her, and thereby strengthens her ties to her Chinese heritage. Yang is treated like an integral part of this clan, especially by Mika, who adores him. However, Kyra worries that she and Jake are over-relying on their assistant, not only to handle daily chores around the house, but also to raise their child — a concern that Jake doesn’t so casually deny in a way and shrug off ways that suggest he has no solution to this dilemma and would prefer to take the easy way out and just continue on his current path.
An intriguing opening dance routine performed by Jake, Kyra, Mika and Yang (as well as other families) underscores the synchronous nature of this domestic entity. However, their harmony is disrupted when Yang suddenly shuts down. With Mika despondent over this misfortune, Jake searches for a fix, only to learn that the original shop Yang sold him is gone (instead, he stumbles across a pet store where he buys Mika a fish). Consequently, he takes him to Russ (Ritchie Coster), a mechanic who breaks the law by breaking into Yang’s core. Unfortunately, the diagnosis Jake receives is that Yang is probably terminally broken. Worse, the robot is loaded with what appears to be spyware. In response to this discovery, Jake is sent to the Technology Museum, where technosapic scholar Cleo (Sarita Choudhury) explains that what Jake found is not a surveillance mechanism, but rather Yang’s database of recorded memories.
Jake thus finds himself on an odyssey to fix the potentially irreparable and also to understand Yang, whose memories he accesses through glasses Immerse him in a realm of virtual reality resembling a galaxy of data point stars. During his travels in Yang’s archived mind, Jake relives previous interactions between the two, such as a conversation in which Jake explains his fondness for tea, the flavor of which seems to contain powerful worlds. He also notes that Yang had a secret girlfriend, whom he later discovers is called Ada (Haley Lu Richardson). Since no one has ever heard of a robot developing emotional (and much less amorous) relationships with people it’s not assigned to, Yang and Ada’s secret affair proves to be a surprising mystery that the abandoned Jake better understand would like.
Regardless of this investigative narrative backbone, After Yang is not an exciting genre effort; His focus is on Jake’s gradual process of self-discovery triggered by Yang’s death. With calm eyes and an equally still demeanor, a slightly bearded Farrell conjures up Jake’s heartache and confusion through gentle gestures and body language. The exact opposite of his penguin in Matt Reeves The Batman, Farrell’s Jake is a man struggling with an existential malaise that stems from inner and outer separation. Yang’s “death” and the rupture it causes in Jake’s heart and home, exacerbates his detachment from Kyra and Mika, from an irretrievable past, and from nature and the universe. Such notions about humanity’s connections to history – and whether they or something more tangible and ubiquitous define our identities – are also central to Mika’s relationship with Yang as she encounters China, and flow through the film like a calm, meandering river.
“With calm eyes and an equally still demeanor, a slightly bearded Farrell conjures up Jake’s heartache and confusion through gentle gestures and body language.”
Jake’s research leads to revelations about Yang’s past life and his closeness to Ada, further complicating his idea of what it means to be human. Farrell conveys his protagonist’s misery and longing with a subtlety that is echoed by Kogonada’s direction, marked – as it was Columbus– through neat compositions, in which modern and classical architectural structures reflect the inner states of the characters. Plaintive cello and piano underline his plot, not to mention Mika’s a cappella performance Mitskis Cover of “Glide” (which was Yang’s favorite song), Kogonada expresses his subjects’ situation of imprisonment and loneliness, framing them in distant doorways and narrow windowpanes, and pinning them in close-ups that separate them from their partners (like during a tense conversation between Jake and Kyra), and spy on them from behind suffocating glass – the last of those devices mirrored by Yang’s collection of mounted butterflies.
Kogonada enacts Jake and company’s quest for union with a light touch that never falters, whether during Jake’s study of Yang’s memoirs (assembled as a montage of quickly struck home video highlights) or in his late-night conversations with Mika, who impersonates Tjandrawidjaja with a charming naturalness that helps sell both the character’s sadness and Yang’s authenticity as a caregiver. Without ever raising his voice or making a big spectacle, After Yang examines the ways in which we cope with the departure of loved ones, asks what that tells us about our attitudes toward ourselves, those around us, and our place at large, and embraces the contradictions and complexities that surround us driving apart and driving apart brings us together. In a way not dissimilar to Yang himself, Kogonada’s film only appears on the surface as a quiet, thoughtful indie drama, but within it lurks myriad mysteries waiting to be unraveled.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/colin-farrell-will-break-your-heart-in-after-yang-a-quietly-revelatory-sci-fi-parable?source=articles&via=rss Colin Farrell will break your heart in After Yang, a quietly revealing sci-fi parable