Flowing through the previous works and movie essays of Kogonada resembles a journey onto still water. His analyses, shown through clips and frames, revere the marriage of harmony and melancholy, an exploration of life and belief systems he conveys rather than imposes. This tranquility that infiltrates his direction and movies pays his recent movie with A24 a visit. Titled After Yang, the South Korean-born filmmaker redefines the calm before the storm.
To be released on March 04, 2022, the film’s premise looks into the meshed lives of humans and products of artificial intelligence, based on the movie’s plot. When his young daughter's (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) beloved companion - an android named Yang (Justin H. Min) - malfunctions, Jake (Colin Farrell) searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife (Jodie Turner-Smith) and daughter across a distance he didn't know was there. Reading the synopsis may lend an aura of dystopia, but after watching the trailer - and, perhaps, knowing Kogonada - everything is far from being and turning into an apocalypse, at least at a first glance.
Kogonada’s serene and philosophical play toys with the characters’ dilemma. “Come on, Yang,” Jake instructs the robot in a movie clip. “What are you doing? Come on!” The setting takes the viewers in a green field with canopies of trees in the background, an ideal landscape to take a family portrait with Yang. But the android stands frozen behind the family camera, gazing at the horizon. Later, Yang’s system shuts down and won’t restart. Jake lies the robot down on the family table in the dining room in the hopes of repairing him soon, but the anguish expression that crosses Jake’s face foreshadows a series of downfalls and discoveries that will soon unfold.
“As much as After Yang is sci-fi, it still belongs to the world of everyday life,” says Kogonada to A24. “I didn’t imagine that my next film would be in the sci-fi genre. That wasn’t something that was on my mind. When I watch blockbuster sci-fi movies where the whole world is at stake, I'm often curious about the people in the background who have to make a living—what are they doing within that landscape? What are their families like?”