Movie #3 2023: After Yang (2021)

After Yang is a film I’ve had on my watchlist since it was released. There’s something about the quiet, ultra-realistic aesthetic of it all that made it so appealing to me even before I knew anything about it. In addition to all of that, the subject matter has this intriguing, Ex Machina, AI type feel that is always increasingly interesting.

The basic premise of this movie revolves around the idea that we may one day live in a world in which you can purchase your own artificial human. Yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds. Colin Farrell leads as a family man who has recently purchased a second-hand AI named Yang to be a big brother to his daughter. When Yang crashes suddenly, he does everything he can to get him fixed. However, he finds some strange and unique secrets on his journey that reveal some truths about Yang’s past.

Usually, this is where I’d insert a lovely little screen grab from the movie, but on this occasion, I could just not pass up the opportunity to show you all perhaps the best opening credits to a movie ever:

I mean, how great is that? It’s a weird one, because the rest of the film is so far removed from the energy and joy that the credits draw you in with, but I could watch it on repeat all day. It’s so much fun, and who knew Colin Farrell was such a good dancer?! I mean, look at his isolations! His talent knows no bounds, clearly.

I have to say, this is absolutely not what I expected. Yet it ended up being one of the most pensive and thoughtful films I’ve seen in a very long time. 

There’s no point in pretending that After Yang is a high action, sci-fi blockbuster of a movie. Don’t let those opening titles fool you. Was I waiting for a big plot twist where it was revealed that Yang had a murderous past? Surely I can’t be the only one. I see any sort of AI/human-shaped robot now and I immediately think of Person of Interest and the aforementioned Ex Machina, but this was a refreshing and interesting look at artificial intelligence that maybe hasn’t been explored quite so delicately before. 

Even before you delve into the emotions behind it, on the surface, After Yang has an almost perfect façade. Set in the not-too-distant future, this is a movie that doesn’t fall into the trap of over-using futuristic, almost unbelievable technology as a way of portraying a new world. Rather, the set decoration plays perfectly into being just modernistic enough for an audience to infer a different timeline without being completely pretentious; it is truly a lovely looking film as a whole. 

Whilst I can’t say I’ve seen many of Colin Farrell’s movies, I can confirm that this is a soft, nuanced showcase of his talent. Unlike in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, for example, his performance in After Yang really gives you a character that you can empathise with, despite his difficult position. I didn’t know I was a Farrell Fan before this, yet this has cemented him as one of the most exciting actors for me today. (Which, in turn, makes me even more interested in The Banshees of Inisherin). Although Jodie Turner-Smith is fabulous, it’s Farrell that you’ll remember most vividly afterwards. 

It’s not as though this is a film that you’ll ever put on your “favourite movies ever” list, and it’s not even one that’s perfect or filled with entertainment value. It will be, though, one that you’ll be glad that exists.

After Yang is currently available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: 


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