After Yang, Kogonada's followup to Columbus, is a metaphysical sci-fi that feels its way through the complex heartbreak and revelation of memory with a beautifully human touch
After Yang is a rare film – one that’s perfectly titled. Yang, played by a transcendently gentle Justin H. Min, is an android sibling purchased by a couple to help their adopted Chinese daughter, Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja), connect with her heritage. Beyond simply an older brother, Yang is also a custodian of an ancient country’s history, and its path of connection to one young girl. But when he inexplicably malfunctions, his adoptive family find themselves navigating the gaps he leaves behind – and what it means to live 'after' his absence.
Jake (an unbearably tender, paternal Colin Farrell) is given access to Yang’s memories, a database of five-second snippets of Yang’s life documenting moments profound and mundane. Literalising the idea that every person is an archive of singular, precious experience, Yang’s memories raise more questions than answers: how to reconcile the unknowable fullness of his life with its finitude? How can we live into the future when the past seems to breathe alongside us, and memories of the person we’ve lost are tied to every space we inhabit?
An achingly lyrical work of science-fiction, After Yang is also a loving ghost story. Feeling its way through the complex heartbreak and revelation of memory with a beautifully human touch, it acutely captures the way grief and loss swell into temporal collapse – rendering the past, present and future as one, inextricable timeline.
After Yang is released 22 Sep by Sky Movies, certificate TBC