After Yang (CREDIT: A24)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Sarita Choudhury, Clifton Collins Jr., Ava DeMary, Brett Dier

Director: Kogonada

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: PG for A Mortality-Tinged Milieu

Release Date: March 4, 2022 (Theaters and Showtime)

After Yang opens with a really rousing dance number that establishes an initial joyous note, although the rest of the film quickly settles into a much more reflective and melancholy mood. This is a near-future vision in which “techno-sapiens”serve as live-in babysitters, although the particular techno-sapien we get to know is really more of a big brother. For those of you who are so excited by the potential of robotics that you just can’t keep still, After Yang‘s opening choreography is for you. This dance session is an opportunity for the whole family – dad Jake (Colin Farrell), mom Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith), young daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja), and android Yang (Justin H. Min) – to get up and really get moving. It also appears to be some sort of worldwide tradition that other families of four are participating in. It’s a delightfully colorful good time, and quite frankly, I wanted it to last forever.

I like to think that Yang’s family is also chasing that dancing high for the rest of the film, if only metaphorically. (Or perhaps literally as well.) The trouble is, Yang starts to break down, and he’s an older model, so it’s difficult to find a place that will get him back to his old self. That sends Mika into a funk, as she can’t find the strength to go to school without Yang to rely on. I know how she’s feeling. It’s like trying to shake your sillies out the way you’ve always done, but then you discover that your shins have suddenly become massively inflamed. Indeed, the entire family starts behaving like they’ve lost a limb.

But maybe they can grow a new one back? In Jake’s efforts to figure out what to do with Yang, he ends up on a sort of spiritual quest, as he examines Yang’s memories and seems to be traversing new planes of existence. He discovers that Yang may have somehow developed a fully human romantic relationship, but the real kicker is the alternate perspective it provides to his family history. After Yang is pondering the big questions that science fiction has been pondering for decades, centuries even. That examination can be sublime, but it can also be frustrating, because definitive answers never really come. Sometimes it’s best to just devote your energy to dancing it all off, but the journey you take when you can’t do that is likely to stick in your craw.

After Yang is Recommended If You Like: Just Dance, Home movies, Contemplation

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Memories