Made in Taiwan
Yi Yi (A One and a Two)
Review by Ross Anthony

"Yi Yi, which literally translates to 'one-one' means 'individually' in Chinese. This signifies the film's portrayal of life through each individual member at each representing age from birth to death. 'A One and a Two and a...' is what's always Yi Yi (A One and a Two)muttered by Jazz musicians before a jam session ... to signify what's following the title is not something tense, or heavy or stressful. Life should be like a jazzy tune." Director, Edward Yang.

With a gentle pace the film clocks in at just shy of three hours. Moving along with serene steps, the gait simulates the pace of real life. Save for a few indulgences in drawn-out silent shots, the film moves wonderfully through the night - giving one the feeling of an experience rather than a spectacle.

"Yi Yi" centers on NJ, a middle-aged man with a wife and two children, as he meanders through crises in his marriage and work life. His first love pops up after thirty years to make matters even more interesting. Ting-Ting, the teen daughter, also must navigate matters of the heart as she wrestles with the guilt of her grandmother's illness amidst the emotional whirlwind of dealing with the opposite sex. NJ's young son, Yang Yang, poked and prodded by the older girls at school, plots his mischievous revenge. Then there's NJ's brother-in-law who becomes a husband and father in the same month; he must field the repercussive actions of his old girlfriend.

It's the confident direction that instills a marvel to the film. Though, the lovely real people with real problems to care about certainly help. In fact, (again aside from the few indulgences by the young boy and Japanese businessman) the film is quite photo-realistic - a slice of modern life in Taiwan, which has the added bonus of educating those who are unfamiliar with the Taiwanese.

This nice picture has a few scratches; isolated bits of excessive profundity bubble up like bulges in a perfectly round tube. And being a slice of life, there isn't any one strongly focused theme, though tidbits of philosophical thought are tossed about.

The film takes firm grasp our sympathies, and though never losing hold of our interest seldom evokes strong emotions.

NJ's wife sits at the bedside of a relative who has fallen into a coma, "Talking to you is like prayer. I'm not sure the other party can hear. I wonder if I'm sincere enough. (Sobs in self-pity) Would you wake up if you were me?"

In Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Japanese with English subtitles.

  • Yi Yi (A One and a Two). Copyright © 2000.
  • Starring Nienjen Wu, Issey Ogata, Elaine Jin, Kelly Lee, Jonathan Chang, Xisheng Chen, Suyun Ke, Michael Tao, Shushen Xiao, Adrian Lin, Yupang Chang, Ruyun Tang, Shuyuan Xu, Xinyi Zeng.
  • Director/screenplay Edward Yank.
  • Produced by Shinya Kawai, Naoko Tsukeda at J1+2 Seikaku Inkai, Pony Canyon, Omega Project/Atom Films.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:40:59 PDT