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Film / Yi Yi

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Yi Yi (一一) is a movie by Taiwanese director Edward Yang, which received the Best Direction award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. It depicts a few weeks in the life of an ordinary Taiwanese family, as the various members must each learn to cope with the challenges of life in their own way. As the grandmother falls in a coma following an accident, the father meets his long-lost first love, the mother goes on a spiritual retreat in a Buddhist monastery, the daughter enters a love triangle, and the son asks grown-ups difficult questions.

While nothing very eventful takes place, the characters feel like one's own relatives by the end of the movie.


Contains examples of:

  • Author Avatar: Yang-Yang, much like Edward Yang, is a quiet creative type obsessed with the unseen and spiritual. Many have noted that the fact that they share names is probably not a coincidence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: N.J. and Sherry don't end up together and N.J. is still having business troubles, but he can at least be honest with himself that he and Sherry would have never had a future and he would have still married his wife. Ting-Ting's love life is in shambles (and Lili has to deal with her ex murdering her lover) but she's able to be honest with her feelings and say goodbye to her grandmother, as can Yang-Yang in a way after he cultivates his new passion for photography.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: A possible interpretation of Fatty ranting at Ting-Ting and driving her away before he murders Lili's English teacher.
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  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: A-Di is on thin ice with his wife to the point where she briefly kicks him out of the house, right before the disastrous baby party where his ex-girlfriend shows up and his fed-up wife causes a scene. She forgives him after his suicide attempt, though.
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with a wedding being ruined by the disastrous appearance of a hysterical ex.
  • Driven to Suicide: A-Di attempts suicide, but like most things in his life, he fails at that, too.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: N.J.'s first language is Chinese, Ota's is Japanese. Neither speaks the other's language, so they tentatively communicate in broken English.
  • Fat Bastard: A-Di has some shades of this, being overweight, stupid, and vain.
  • First Girl Wins: Averted. N.J. broke up with his first love in university and, as it turns out, giving their relationship another chance doesn't work out.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: N.J. likes to tune out by putting on earphones and listening to music.
  • Henpecked Husband: A-Di's new wife is very demanding and pushy around her husband until his suicide attempt changes her attitude.
  • Ironic Nickname: Fatty is not particularly overweight.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: The grandmother's funeral takes place in fine, sunny weather.
  • It's All My Fault: Ting-Ting blames herself for not being there during her grandmother's accident, as she was taking out the trash.
  • Kavorka Man: A-Di is an incompetent, overweight slob, but nevertheless manages to date several attractive women, including his starlet wife.
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: Up to Eleven with A-Di and his wife, who don't have a name chosen when their baby is born and continue to hold off for a while after the baby is born because his horoscope is bad.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Lili's promiscuous mother is having an affair with Lili's English teacher. Lili breaks up with Fatty and starts having her own affair with the English teacher, while Ting-Ting attempts a relationship of her own with Fatty. None of it ends up well.
  • Multigenerational Household: N.J.'s household includes his mother as well as his own children.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Fatty murders the English teacher that Lili has been seeing, in a jealous rage.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: N.J. and Sherry don't end up together and N.J. realizes that he wouldn't have done anything differently even if he could redo his life.
  • Sadist Teacher: Yang-yang's teacher repeatedly humiliates him in front of the class.
  • Slice of Life: A very intimate portrait of how love and work affects family life.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Yang-yang turns into a preteen version of this after falling in love with a classmate.
  • Sudden Videogame Moment: When Lili's off-and-on boyfriend murders her lover, the scene is played as a videogame fight.
  • Tsundere: Lili.
  • Wedding Smashers: The bridegroom's former girlfriend barges in and makes a scene.
  • Will They or Won't They?: N.J. and his first love.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: A downplayed example in Yang-yang. While he's not very book-smart, he seems to be much more perceptive and somewhat more mature than many of the adults around him. His love for taking pictures of people's backs highlights this (it's meant to show them what they never see).
  • Workaholic: Averted with N.J. who, despite being an obvious candidate for this trope (Asian, mid-level manager in a software company), in fact feels increasingly disconnected from his job.
  • You Are What You Hate: Lili dislikes and resents her mother for being promiscuous, but she herself ends up being no different.