Take “A.I.” and mix it with “Tree of Life” and you get “After Yang,” an extremely repetitive, slow moving film about loss, grief, and life. Adapted from a short story by Alexander Weinstein, director Kogonada stretches twenty minutes of material into a too-long feature. The result is a monotonous, if beautiful, meditation on the value of living, whether you’re human or android.
Yang (Justin H. Min) is a technosapien, a lifelike, refurbished robot that Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) purchased as a companion for their adopted daughter (Malea Emma Tjandra). One day, Yang stops functioning properly and needs to be repaired. Since he was purchased secondhand, Jake has to go to an underground service technician to return the android to tip-top shape.
When it’s discovered that Yang’s factory-installed spyware has been recording all of his memories, Jake takes an interest in accessing and watching them. Seeing the beauty of life, the world, and relationships through the eyes of an artificially intelligent man, Jake begins a journey of introspection. He finds joy in the way Yang sees the world, but also experiences the loss of what has become a beloved member of the family.
There are a lot of contemplative and draggy parts to the film, with dull characters sitting around looking sad. Farrell is terrific, but he isn’t given much to do. The themes of connection are deep, but the film’s runtime outlasts the more compelling parts of the story. “After Yang” is too subtle and moody to leave much of a lasting emotional impact.
By: Louisa Moore