Yi Yi: A One and a Two
|Yi Yi: A One and a Two|
|Directed by||Edward Yang|
|Produced by||Shinya Kawai|
|Written by||Edward Yang|
|Music by||Kai-Li Peng|
|Editing by||Bo-Wen Chen|
|Distributed by||Kuzui Enterprises|
|Running time||173 minutes|
Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Chinese: 一一; pinyin: Yī Yī) is a Taiwanese/Japanese film written and directed by Edward Yang, about the emotional struggles of a businessman and the lives of his middle-class Taiwanese family in Taipei seen through three generations.
The title in Chinese, 一一 (pronounced Yī Yī), means "one one", in the sense of "each one." Also, when written in vertical alignment, the two strokes resemble the character 二, meaning "two."
Yi Yi is an epic story about the Taipei Jian family seen through three different perspectives: the middle-aged father NJ (Nien-Jen Wu), the young son Yang-Yang (Jonathan Chang), and the teenage daughter, Ting-Ting (Kelly Lee). The three-hour piece starts with a wedding, concludes with a funeral, and contemplates areas of human life in between. The father, NJ, is unsatisfied with his work and the desire of his business partners to enter into a deal with a well-known Japanese videogame company. While his partners are only concerned about making money, NJ finds that his honest nature is unappreciated in the commercial realm. To his surprise, he finds a connection with the Japanese software mogul, Ota. A former old flame, Sherry, tries to walk into his life after a chance reunion. His youngest son has troubles at school with his teachers, while his daughter has to handle a love triangle involving her friend next door and her troubled boyfriend. All three try to deal with their problems while also caring for NJ's aged mother-in-law, who is in a coma, and in the absence of NJ's wife, who has left for a Buddhist retreat after facing a midlife crisis. In addition, A-Di, NJ's overweight brother-in-law who marries a starlet at the start of the film, has to wrestle with his demanding wife and a former love, complicating matters within this extended family.
The other Taiwanese cast members include Elaine Jin as NJ's wife, Min-Min, Su-Yun Ko as NJ's former love Sherry, Hsi-Sheng Chen as A-Di, and Pang Chang Yu as Fatty. The film also stars Japanese comedian Issei Ogata as a Japanese software mogul, Ota.
Production and casting
Yi Yi's principal shooting began on April 8, 1999 and lasted until August 21, 1999. Prior to this, Yang's script had required the children to be aged ten and fifteen, but Yang later found Jonathan Chang and Kelly Lee, both of whom had never acted before. When shooting began, they were eight and thirteen respectively. Yang made amendments to the script accordingly.
Awards and accolades
Following its debut at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Yi Yi has collected a host of awards from prestigious international film festivals. Yi Yi garnered its director, Edward Yang the Best Director at Cannes in 2000 and was nominated for the Palme d'Or in the same year. Yi Yi won the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival's Netpac Award, the Vancouver International Film Festival's Chief Dan George Humanitarian Award and tied with Topsy-Turvy to win the 2000 Sarajevo Film Festival's Panorama Jury Award. The film also won Best Foreign Film from the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics in 2001, the Grand Prix at the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland in 2001, The Best Foreign Film from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards in 2000, Best Film from the National Society of Film Critics in 2001, and Best Foreign Language Film from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards in 2000. The film was also nominated for the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. It was also named one of the best movies of 2001 by many prominent publications and intellectuals, including the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today the Village Voice, Film Comment, the Chicago Reader, and the author Susan Sontag, among others.
In 2002, the film was selected by the British film magazine Sight and Sound as one of the ten greatest films of the past twenty-five years, along with Apocalypse Now; Raging Bull; Fanny and Alexander; Goodfellas; Blue Velvet; Do the Right Thing; Blade Runner; Chungking Express; Distant Voices, Still Lives; and Once Upon a Time in America. (There was a tie.)
It is also ranked as the third-most critically acclaimed film of the 21st century by the Web site They Shoot Pictures Don't They?.
The piano pieces in Yi Yi's soundtrack are mostly performed by Kaili Peng, Yang's wife. They include well-known pieces like Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata in E minor and BWV 914. Peng also has a small cameo in the film as a concert cellist, playing the Beethoven's Cello sonata No. 1 with her husband posing as a pianist.