Based on the short story ‘Saying Goodbye to Yang’ by Alexander Weinstein, ‘After Yang’ is a science-fiction drama film. The story is set in an unspecified time in the future when most families have androids or techno-sapiens living with them, and cloning has been legalized. Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra’s adoptive daughter, Mika, is of Chinese descent. Hoping to help her connect to her roots, Jake and Kyra get Yang (Justin H. Min), a cultural techno-sapien.
Things go well until Yang stops functioning one day. Jake subsequently discovers that Yang has a device inside to collect memories precious to him. As Jake starts watching, he gets the chance to relive those moments. If you have watched ‘After Yang’ and loved it, here is a list of recommendations for you. You can watch most of these films similar to ‘After Yang’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
6. Bicentennial Man (1999)
‘Bicentennial Man’ may not be a well-received film, but it does a good job of depicting Isaac Asimov’s ideas about robotics on the big screen. And when someone with the range of Robin Williams leads the cast, the movie is bound to have at least a few redeeming qualities. Like ‘After Yang’ and several other entries in this list, ‘Bicentennial Man’ explores themes such as mortality, human existence, and love through the eponymous character, who is initially acquired by the Martin family to take care of housekeeping and maintenance duties.
5. Ex Machina (2014)
If both ‘After Yang’ and ‘Bicentennial Man’ are optimistic visions of the future, ‘Ex Machina’ is a cautionary tale. It revolves around programmer Caleb Smith, who visits the home of his boss Nathan Bateman and discovers that the latter has a gynoid with artificial intelligence. Nathan asks Caleb to test whether the gynoid, Ava, can harbor real thoughts and consciousness.
The story soon takes a darker turn as Nathan’s narcissistic and lecherous behavior toward Ava and his domestic attendant Kyoko becomes apparent. As Caleb confronts Nathan, the latter warns that Ava is manipulating him. Like ‘After Yang,’ the science fiction in ‘Ex Machina’ is grounded in reality and philosophy.
4. Her (2013)
‘Her’ is a story about loneliness, artificial intelligence, and the concept of love. Theodore Twombly is getting divorced. As he starts to feel increasingly isolated, he forms a connection with an artificially intelligent virtual assistant. Both ‘Her’ and ‘After Yang’ explore the fictional aspect of science fiction in a very grounded manner. The A.I. that exists in these two worlds is not entirely fantastical.
3. Cloud Atlas (2012)
The Wachowskis have rarely done anything half-hearted and uncomplicated, and ‘Cloud Atlas’ is no exception. Based on David Mitchell’s 2004 novel of the same name, the film has multiple storylines, extending across time and continents. Two of these storylines are set in the future. One of them, set in 2144, is dystopic, while the other, set in 2321, is post-apocalyptic. ‘Cloud Atlas’ is filled to the brim with observations about life beyond death, reincarnation, artificial intelligence, and human cloning, just like ‘After Yang.’
2. Swan Song (2021)
‘Swan Song’ is a love letter of a dying man to his wife. After being diagnosed with an incurable disease, Cameron, a loving father and husband, decides to spare his family the pain of watching him die and agrees to be replaced by a healthy clone. But severing ties with the past and accepting mortality are some of the hardest choices one can make, and Cameron predictably struggles. While ‘After Yang’ examines grief and mortality through the perspective of family members, ‘Swan Song’ focuses on the person who is about to die.
1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ is one of Steven Spielberg’s lesser-known creations, but over the years, it has come to be regarded as one of the best films of the 21st century. It was originally supposed to be directed by Stanley Kubrick, but he kept putting it off because he felt David, the titular protagonist, couldn’t be convincingly portrayed by any child actor and the contemporary CGI wasn’t advanced enough.
After Spielberg took the helm and Haley Joel Osment was cast, magic happened. Like ‘Bicentennial Man’ and to a degree ‘After Yang,’ ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ is a reimagining of ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio. It also explores the notion of mortality like the other entries in the list.