[Cannes 2021] Kogunada’s “After Yang”: A simple and fascinating science fiction movie about artificial intelligence.

Science fiction has so accustomed us to a dystopian future for years that there is just something radical about the image of the desired future, as portrayed in “After Yang,” presented in Un Certain Regard.

In this fantastic American film, directed by the mysterious Kogonada and produced by the Wonderboys of A24, the misfortune hasn’t gone away (thankfully), but patriarchy, racism, or environmental genocide seems to have been resolved, or at least mitigated enough to not come close.

Few details have been given about this miraculously balanced society, but it seems that humans have found a way to live there in harmony, with each other and with nature, and there is no opponent other than the dirty tricks of the world. Life – Except, everyone is the same, capitalism tends to spy on private life, but very little is known about it.

This is because the young director of Korean descent, with the pseudo-inspired pagan screenwriter of Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda, known in the fields of American cinema for his brilliant video-critical essays (on Wes Anderson, Godard, Bresson, Tarantino … ) and for the first feature Columbus (a huge critical success in 2017 but unprecedented in France), and its purpose is less social than metaphysical. The sociologist is not absent from his film, and he asks questions about identity, but what really preoccupies him are universal existential questions: how does memory work, and what constitutes experience, the human being, or what binds individuals together?

Brilliantly metallic, Colin Farrell, as in his best roles, here plays a father who makes fine tea (Truffaut, who loved the original crafts, would no doubt have appreciated this), married to Judy Turner Smith (the amazing actress who revealed The Queen and Selim), who adopted a little Chinese girl, presented her with an artificial big brother. Thus, the namesake Yang is a robot, or rather a “techno sapiens” with encyclopedic knowledge, indistinguishable from a human, responsible for associating his little sister Mika with his Chinese culture of which her adoptive parents have only a vague idea. This, already a film of its time, was marked by the obsessions of the American moment.

from Blade Runner to me ghost in bowl, from AI to me ex machine (To name only movies that after yang Most believe), cinema has generally portrayed robots as problematic beings, in conflict with their creators. Yang is different. If it resembles, in some ways, little David from AI De Spielberg, his adoptive parents do not wish him any harm, on the contrary: they spend their time trying to fix him, after a fatal failure that deprives them of his comfortable existence. By dragging his inanimate objects from repairman to repairman, they manage to hack his digital brain and erase his memories, discovering that they have an extraordinary being in their hands…

The script, very original despite its themes that have been seen and reviewed, unfolds with great skill over a short period (one hour and 41), and it does not cease to amaze at every branch.

But Kogonada’s style is the most impressive. Having spent a decade analyzing the greats of the Masters, he was able to create his own film, which we can certainly compare to some Asian directors (like Edward Yang) but find their own breath there. The Korean-born director is already finding great graphic solutions to represent the sci-fi tropes that we thought were exhausted.

Thus telephony are simple forward fields/reverse fields that plaster disjointed spaces with infinite elegance; The many journeys by car are like coffee discussions, filmed through windows that reflect off the splendid light; Memory, finally, is a library of little bright spots that give access to fleeting and fantastic scenes (representing the formidable Halle Lou Richardson).

Simple as profound, of infinite sensitivity, after yang It is a theory whose solution is up to the spectator, which must ensure recognition of its writer outside the United States.

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