When not paired with action, drama, or being an adventure, sci-fi is a tough sell, and After Yang shows why.


Director(s) Kogonada
Screenplay By Kogonada
Date Released 1/21/2022
Where To Watch Film Festival (Sundance Film Festival)
Genre(s) Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Duration 96 Minutes
Content Rating PG
Noted Cast
Jake Colin Farrell
Kyra Jodie Turner-Smith
Mika Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja
Yang Justin H. Min
Ada Haley Lu Richardson

Film Summary

In the Fleming household, there is Jake, who runs a tea shop, Kyra, who is a businesswoman, Mika, their adopted daughter, and Yang, an android, bought to be an older sibling for Mika, and give her a sense of Chinese culture. Unfortunately, Yang begins to malfunction and eventually doesn’t turn on. This forces Jake to seek a means to repair Yang since, alongside playing Mika’s big brother, he also was her caretaker. But, in the process of trying to have him fixed, Jake comes to realize, despite being an android, Yang had a life of his own – one before and during his time with the Flemings.

Cast & Character Guide

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.

Jake

A tea connoisseur since watching a documentary made in the 20th century, Jake has built his life around his tea shop, marriage, and a sense of tranquility. This perhaps is why, with such a focus on his tea shop, his adopted daughter, Mika, feels so neglected and looks to their android, Yang, for paternal comfort.

Kyra

A businesswoman of an undiscerned industry, Kyra, far more than Jake, recognizes that they need to step it up as parents to Mika and can’t rely on Yang to do the job for them.

Mika

By the time we meet Mika, she hasn’t really come to terms with being adopted yet. She sees Jake and Kyra as her mom and dad and Yang as her older brother. One who may look like her more than her parents and instills Chinese culture and history, but is no different from the rest. But, with Yang malfunctioning, so comes a shift in the family Mika doesn’t like, which leads to her acting out.

Yang

A certified refurbished android, at least twice sold, Yang is a rare android who has his own memories and the artificial intelligence to interpret them. Alongside that, he can pursue a life outside his owners, which is the main focus of Jake throughout the movie.

Ada

A clone, Ada is someone Yang fancied and asked out due to his association with her original.

Other Noteworthy Information

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: There are conversations about death, cloning, and ideas that are tame but not worrisome for a young audience

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.
—Yang (Quoting Lao Tzu)


There’s no something without nothing.
— Yang

Review

Highlights

Ada

For nearly half of the film, you are given this feeling of longing. No, not longing due to empathy for a character who wants something more or better in their life, but longing in the form of wanting something notable to happen. We don’t get that until Ada comes into play. She represents that character, that story, that makes Haley Lu Richardson seem like Kogonada’s secret weapon in After Yang. For with her character’s introduction, we go from a film with a weak pulse, which is slowly fading out on screen, to getting multiple jolts in an attempt to revive it.

Now, what does Richardson specifically bring? Some sense of charm. As someone Yang took an interest in, we’re given a character who genuinely smiles, seems interested in life beyond their mundane day-to-day activities, and is given the kind of backstory that taps into the film’s sci-fi element. For, when it comes to clones, self-driving cars, and androids, the film treats it as something ordinary and uninteresting. Which you can understand as Jake and his family are accustomed to these things. However, as a viewer, you’re not, and it is like they are ignoring the one thing which could save this film from itself.

So with learning Ada’s history, combined with the part she played in Yang’s former home and his current one, it creates a bright spot. The kind which makes it so you want to watch the movie, rather than feel like you have to so that you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your money.

Low Points

It’s Slow Moving To The Point Of Making You Sleepy

While the film starts off strong with an elaborate and eccentric dance sequence, from there, it is pretty much downhill. Colin Farrell drains the life out of every scene he is in like a dark void. Except for his scenes with Richardson. As for everyone else? It doesn’t matter if the actor is as equally dry as Jodie Turner-Smith’s character, or if they have personality and can come off eccentric, between the writing and his performance, you’ll be bored into making yourself comfortable for a nap.

Lack Of Investment In The Lead Characters

Though, what also doesn’t help is that you aren’t given much backstory or any real development to compensate for this melancholy tale. We don’t go into why Kyra and Jake chose to adopt a Chinese child rather than have a biological one.

On top of that, while it has one or two cute moments, their relationship doesn’t present the kind of chemistry that you can fall in love with. Also, while their daughter is adorable, and you can understand why it was important for her to feel connected to her culture, Mika’s inclusion often feels like a squeaky alarm to keep you from getting too comfortable. That is, as opposed to being a valued role to help you understand the family’s dynamic.

Then, even with the title character Yang, while Ada’s introduction can be seen as boosting him, we don’t see them interact, just see her through Yang’s eyes. Thus driving the idea that he only matters because Mika incessantly brings him up. Which is the sole driving force, alongside maybe not wanting to take on the child full-time, why Jake makes any effort to get Yang fixed. Only to be surprised, an android, before and during his time with his family, had more of a life than him.

And don’t get us wrong, we get a lot could be said regarding identity, hence Yang’s presence in Mika’s life and making sure she knows about the culture from her home country. However, while it is noted, despite Yang’s purpose in Mika’s life, he questioned whether he identifies as Chinese, again, it is not something pushed to gain investment in. You can see that, for immigrants, or those who don’t feel at home in their country, why the thought would be complicated, especially since Yang represents all things Chinese for Mika. But, again, with Yang’s life boiled down to Mika’s babysitter and someone Jake is shocked was more than just an android, Yang’s life, voice, and perspective is drowned out.

Overall

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

I would not have finished this movie if I did not pay for this and wasn’t a Haley Lu Richardson fan. Its lead characters lack charisma or any significant reason to make you invest in the film, it is slow-moving, dry, with no real sign of what it is driving to, and the one bright spot, Richardson’s Ada, is a small supporting role. One good enough to wake you from the stupor this film puts you in, but not utilized to the point of making this film not feel incredibly niche.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

On The Radar


Ratings

  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
  • Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category. 
Jake (Colin Farrell) looking at his reflection
After Yang (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Those who enjoy sci-fi dramas featuring a slow, borderline emotionless story.
Highlights
Ada
Disputable
It's Slow Moving To The Point Of Making You Sleepy
Lack Of Investment In The Lead Characters
71


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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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