Logically invested by Hollywood, SF is frequently a vague pretext for a giga-spectacle, digital sprayings of ship debris and other cosmic explosions, which is the opposite of what historically constitutes the place of its power. Indeed, even ambitious space operas were initially spaces for imagination and concept studies.
From the psychedelic trips of K. Dick, without forgetting the utopian vertigo of Ada Palmer, passing through the mixtures of dystopia and dark fantasy by P. Djèli Clark (the hallucinating Ring Shoot), science fiction is primarily a reflexive, if not philosophical, playground. And like Ex Machina almost a decade ago, After Yang strived to re-enchant this playground.
hearts with fingers
But rather than wondering how and why the android essentially forms a radical alterity, an enemy in the making, an ontological threat, Kogonada looks much more directly at its very nature. How can the existence of a synthetic being, with very present automatisms, but different from ours, affect us? To answer this question, he embraces an unexpected angle, that of the heart, of lack, of mourning. Because it is the problem which assails the family at the center of the story, and which founds the singularity of this one.
Yang, the defective cyborg, does not threaten humans, he awakens a new part of them, which he must map, tame. Kogonada had shown infinite delicacy in noticing Columbusand of an emotional magnitude bordering on the epic in the series Pachinko. Two sides of his sensibility brought together here in an unusual art of synthesis. The man chose his artist name in homage to one of the most eminent scriptwriters of the Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu, to whom he devoted part of his studies, before making video essays which earned him instant fame, where prominently featured the work of Bergman, Bresson and Linklater.
It is these tributaries of influence that come together here to take the pulse of our existential questions, but above all, in a good self-respecting science fiction story, with the aim of guessing what our affects will be tomorrow, how a new society will question new men. He films this universe without running after the representation of technological innovationsrather by scrutinizing how these can be naturally incorporated into a deceptively calm daily life.
The director of photography Benjamin Loeb, on the strength of the experience accumulated on Mandy or Pieces of a Woman attaches particular importance to the placement of the protagonists in its frames, which are surprisingly warm despite a perpetually rigorous sense of composition. Because it halos the discreet, but abundant artistic direction in an organic light, it gives all the room for its actors, whose slightest inflection, each look or exchange authentically installs a peaceful and yet raw humanity.
A gold family
The whole could become encysted in the utopian depiction of a society without real conflicts, or bubble around half-tone characters, but it is not so. And this is where the Bergmanian heritage of the ensemble is fully embodied. Rarely has Colin Farrell been directed with such finesse, or will have found a playmate so compatible with his beagle aura under Lexomil. Facing him Jodie Turner-Smith symbolizes both the past challenges of a society that will have triumphed over many of its troubles, and the possibility of a dawn, of a humanity renewing its perpetual quest for itself.
Their joint miracle will consist in making Yang this being whose humanity we question before realizing that his essence, by nature “other”, therefore becomes a breeding ground for our imagination, and the revealer of our condition. How to love such a radical otherness? What can she love, and where does her uniqueness lie? In hollow, gradually, the film makes of this figure that Garland treated with a mixture of compassion and distant curiosity the nerve center of his reflection, our true anchor point, whose richness is equaled only by the vertiginous perspectives . Sweet, sensitive and funny, After Yang shows us that science fiction remains the chosen field for humanistic and lively reflectionbut also a privileged setting for our emotions, whether they are obvious, complex or yet to be born.