Based on a true story, primarily on a conflict between two youth gangs, a 14-year-old boy's girlfriend conflicts with the head of one gang for an unclear reason, until finally the conflict comes to a violent climax.
When a well known businessman goes missing, owing $100m to Taipei's underworld, two hoods decide to follow his son, the leader of a youth gang. A small group of trendy foreigners gets caught up in the action.
An innocent young man witnesses violence breaks out after an isolated village is inflamed by the arrival of a circus and its peculiar attractions, a giant whale and a mysterious man named "The Prince".
Each member of a family in Taipei asks hard questions about life's meaning as they live through everyday quandaries. NJ is morose: his brother owes him money, his mother is in a coma, his wife suffers a spiritual crisis when she finds her life a blank, his business partners make bad decisions against his advice, and he reconnects with his first love 30 years after he dumped her. His teenage daughter Ting-Ting watches emotions roil in their neighbors' flat and is experiencing the first stirrings of love. His 8-year-old son Yang-Yang is laconic like his dad and pursues truth with the help of a camera. "Why is the world so different from what we think it is?" asks Ting-Ting. Written by
Edward Yang's Yi Yi is a film made in Taipei, the biggest city in Taiwan, and he demonstrates the sadness of the people who work hard but can not find out the meaning of life. He successfully uses many reflection-frames to suggest to people that life is not just working hard and making money.
The first reflection-frame happens when grandma is suddenly sent to the hospital. Yang has the camera focus on the hospital windows during the dialogue between NJ and his brother-in-law, A-Di, so we can see their reflection on the windows. Reflection-frames in each film do not always have the same meanings and they depend on different situations. Therefore, I suggest that Yang tried to show that people can see their reflection by windows or mirror anytime, but they are too busy to look and see how they have changed.Also, they are afraid to face the truth in the reflection because the truth is not what they want.
A-Di's reflection on the windows shows us his dishonesty. He always has trouble with money, and his promise that he will give back NJ's money soon is not true. On the other hand, NJ actually does not care much about money. Moreover, in this reflection, there is one window frame set between them, and their reflection is separated by that window frame. The separation suggests that NJ is different than A-Di, and the value of money is not as an important to NJ as A-Di. Also, A-Di's reflection in the framed window takes up more space than NJ's reflection. Yang may suggest that the majority of people in the big city are like A-Di who has the ambition to make a great deal of money. People in the city are unhappy and unsatisfied with the property they have, so they spend more time to make more money. However, NJ taking up a small space in the framed reflection represents the minority of people who struggle to find work that is interesting to them. Mostly, people whose work interest them can not make enough money for their family.
Besides, Yang can be connected with NJ's reflection, which takes up a small and narrow space in the frame. He chooses the work which he is interested, but his films hardly make money even through he makes great films. Referencing to Yang's background, he graduated from an electric engineering department in good school. He can work in a highly technical company and have a good paying job, like NJ. However, he predicts that he will be unhappy as NJ is. Therefore, he chooses to make films as his job and enjoy it whether or not his film can make money as commercial film.
The reflection-frame in the hospital is an ironic: NJ is worrying about the situation of his mother-in-law, but A-Di is worrying about his financial trouble. Because A-Di was born and raised by the person who is in the emergency room, he should show more worry than NJ, but A-Di doesn't. This situation reminds me of Noriko in Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953). Noriko shows more care to her dead husband's parents than other members in the family. Ozu is a Japanese and made "Tokyo Story" half a century ago; however, Yang is a Taiwanese and made Yi Yi almost fifty years after "Tokyo Story". Even through they use different film techniques, both Ozu and Yang arouse viewers to balance the importance between money and family.
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