After Yang Sundance 2022 Review: Unique Look at Being Human

One of the greatest details about Science Fiction is its ability to bend reality. After Yang does this but in a way that gives a unique scope in what it is to be a human being.

After Yang is directed by Kogonada and stars Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja. The story follows a futuristic society where a family attempts to save the life of their A.I. family member, Yang, after he becomes unresponsive, leading them down a path of questioning love and connection afterward.

What Works

The film presents a unique way of telling the story through Jake (Farrell) seeing Yang’s memories. Yang is a cyborg built only to serve the family as a babysitter, or even sibling to Mika (Tjandrawidjaja). This pattern of going from memory to memory was a riveting experience, as it opened up the humanity in Yang – something that many in this society believed to be impossible. There’s something beautiful in the human emotion and experiences forming in a being where it wasn’t meant that way in society, but it did anyway. We see him experience love in different forms – for a friend and for his family. Mika and Yang formed a sibling-like bond, whereas Jake and Kyra (Turner-Smith) viewed him as their biological son.

The film is visually stunning, with CGI that puts you in the middle of a futuristic, memory-traveling adventure. It immerses you in moments where it’s used well and, thankfully, the visuals are used creatively and not as a crutch to tell the story. It paired nicely with a great color palette and well-framed cinematography.

What Doesn’t Work

Unfortunately, Jodie Turner-Smith didn’t get the screentime she deserved. It also ran into some pacing problems in the middle, with the intrigue dropping off at certain points. Looking through Yang’s memories was a far more enjoyable experience than dragging his body around from place to place in an attempt to get it fixed. But it truly makes up for any misses with it’s hard-hitting moments

After Yang: 8.5/10

After Yang premiered at Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.

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