Big Uncle’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is a great film and I understand why it's so highly rated. I'll start by saying that everything about this film is perfect. I can't believe how real the movie feels. Every aspect of the film gives it a sense of realism. The dialogue all flows so naturally, the acting is masterful, and the cinematography is the icing on the cake.
I LOVE the cinematography. Every shot is perfectly framed, and when I say every shot I mean literally EVERY SINGLE SHOT. I especially loved when they used the reflection on a window at night to show an entire scene, with the city in the background. Every scene is mostly composed of still shots, and there are barely any close ups throughout the entire thing which gives the viewer the feeling that they're observing these characters in their day-to-day lives. This makes the film feel even MORE real, because it doesn't cut back and forth between close ups. Each scene is usually one long still shot showing everything happen, and that's what makes this the least dramatic drama ever made. This isn't a bad thing of course, since it's trying to be as realistic as possible.
There isn't exactly a MAIN plot of this film, the entire thing is made of up various subplots. Each character goes through their own hardships just like we do in real life, and they slowly come to understand the reality of the world. Each main character is amazing and super well written, and they really do seem like real people. Every action performed by a character has a reason, and every word spoken has a meaning. Also like I said earlier, the performances from all the actors bring these characters to life.
I do have a couple problems with the film. The first thing is that I started to lose interest a bit during the third hour. I really loved the first two hours of the movie, but then I started to get a bit bored and began to feel the runtime. I think the film could've been a little bit shorter, but it's not that big of a problem. The last scene was amazing tho. The second thing is that this isn't really rewatchable for me. I feel like I'd be extremely bored on a second watch since I already know everything that happens, and there aren't really any extraordinary moments in the film. It's a movie about everyday life, so it doesn't necessarily NEED to have any extraordinary moments.
Both of those critiques aren't that big of a problem though, because everything else about the movie makes up for it. I was gonna give this a high 4, but as I was writing my review, I decided to change it to a 4.5. So, I definitely recommend watching Yi Yi, just don't go in expecting anything crazy. This is a film where you need to just sit back and take everything in. This was also my first Edward Yang film I've seen, and I definitely need to watch his others sometime soon.