I loved the film ‘A One and a Two’ by director Edward Yang. The film is also known as ‘Yi Yi’. It is the story of a middle-aged man called NJ, his son Yang-Yang and his teenaged daughter, Ting-Ting. NJ is unhappy at work. He does not agree with the his business partners who want to enter into a deal with a Japanese video game company. He does not share their desire for wealth at the expense of more important things in life.
Meanwhile, his son is in trouble at school and his daughter deals with teenage relationships, getting involved with her friend next door and her boyfriend.
When his mother in law suffers a stroke and falls into a coma, the family all feel her absence. NJ’s wife finds comfort in faith and leaves for a Buddhist retreat, Ting-Ting feels guilty because she believes she caused her grandmother’s stroke, and Yang-Yang takes to photographing the backs of people’s heads since they cannot see this part of their own body for themselves.
NJ finds that, surprisingly, he connects with the Japanese software chief. Speaking in English they find they have a common bond and NJ rediscovers some of the optimism he lost when he gave up music in favour of a life as an engineer. The scene in a Karaoke bar where he plays Moonlight Sonata on a keyboard is most affecting. Add to this an old flame who reminds him of what he left behind and you have a complex but deeply moving film about a man contemplating the life he has and what might have been.
Edward Yang’s film from 2000 won him the Best Director award at Cannes. It is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?