This seemed to be a quieter Sundance than most, due at least in part to the all-online form it had to take while a viral spike put the kibosh on large gatherings, but the program still yielded a handful of major success stories. One such film is Kogonada’s second feature After Yang, which racked up another round of plaudits after opening to a warm reception at Cannes last year.
We can get a whiff of why in the first trailer for the tender sci-fi drama, which arrived online just this morning. Even in morsel form, the open-hearted sensibility of the video-essayist-turned-director’s meditation on family, memory, and love comes through loud and clear.
In a distant future of Jedi-style couture and glittering skyscrapers, it’s not uncommon for families to adopt robots in the guise of young people, part household help and part offspring. For married couple Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith), this poses a problem when the android (Justin H. Min) they’ve come to love like one of their own faces obsolescence and impending tech-death like a past-its-prime iPhone, to the great despair of their human daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja).
In her review from the film’s premiere at Cannes, our gal on the scene Hannah Strong wrote positively of the “serenity and melancholy” in the world Kogonada’s created. She ultimately concluded: “There are shades of Terrence Malick in Kogonada’s reverence for the natural world, but he manages to create something that is completely his own, brimming with intricate detail and delicate soul.”
Fans of the World of Tomorrow animated series, take note – Kogonada’s interest in the mechanics of cloning and robotics, combined with his equal balance of the sentimental and cerebral, echoes the recent triumphs of Don Hertzfeldt. (Less similar in tone but closer in content is the Ray Bradbury-penned Twilight Zone episode ‘I Sing The Body Electric,’ in which a circuitboard grandma must be “retired” in the same sense as poor Yang.)
After Yang will come to cinemas in the US on 4 March, and will also stream through Showtime. A date for the UK has yet to be set.
Published 1 Feb 2022