NYFF 2000 REVIEW: "A One and a Two": Edward Yang's The Meaning of Life
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Edward Yang's "Yi Yi" won the Best Director Prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival where Mark Peranson reviewed the film for indieWIRE. Tonight it will screen as part of the New York Film Festival and will be released by Winstar Cinema this Friday.]
Of the major Taiwanese filmmakers, Edward Yang has earned the deserved reputation of being the most contemporary and the most real because his ultimate concern is to find room for a plausible, personal intimacy in a conflicted, materialistic society. This is a dilemma almost anyone alive in a developed country encounters. In his eagerly anticipated "A One and a Two" (Yi Yi), Yang continues with his exploration of middle class, male-female relations in a sprawling, yet intimate approach to the central issues of life in which every age is represented by one of the members of a well-off Taiwanese family. This fully absorbing, pretty much impeccable film is marked by a strong sociopolitical subtext and an elegant, precise visual style.
With its twelve major characters and numerous "guest appearances," many of whom are played by first-time actors, "Yi Yi" has so much going on that summarizing it is fruitless. The central family, headed by computer executive Jiang NJ (Wu Nianzhen, director of, among others, "A Borrowed Life") is thrown into a state of turmoil with his brother's marriage. There he meets his now-married, long-lost love Sherry; on the same day, his mother has a stroke. Next door, the Jians move in, and daughter Lili strikes a
friendship with Jiang Ting-Ting, which will leads to broken hearts and bodies, as things only go from bad to worse. The film traverses the central moments in life