Beside myself with joy

Review by Evan Meena

You & I —A Film by Yiqing Zhao offers up a psychoanalytic deception of writer’s block.

While this sounds academic and unremarkable – it is the polar opposite. We meet a young (yes, 30 is still young) author trying to break a case of writers block. A play on the word happens here as the writer is blocked … by someone else. A phone call from her mother seems to send her deeper into creative inertia. Filmmaker and star Yiqing Zhao deftly allows us – through claustrophobic colors and camera angles – to feel that we are at the end of the line for this author. That the blocking she received from her mother will keep the writers block in place. Until someone arrives to, in essence – save the day.

It is the writer herself.

Through a plot devise worthy – and executed often – by Rod Serling, we meet the authors younger, more fun and funny self. Garbed in kitty socks and a pink wig we meet the other side of the author – and the other side of Yiqing. Having convinced us that she is dark and serious, we now see her as a young girl – playful and silly – even dancing and hopping all around the nondescript apartment.

This is not a new technique as one sees this back in the days of the telplay, but Yiqing’s commitment to the dual role is what is most attractive. Her stone-faced, expressionless angst is evident from the opening while you cannot help but laugh at-er-with her as a young child garbed in a ballerina outfit. The change is so powerful that one has to wonder if it is indeed the same actress. Their exchange ends with a moment of the two sides of the same coin staring at each other ruefully and woefully – you decided which is which and who is who.

Pulling quadruple duty as writer, director, producer, and star, Zhao employs subtle but powerful spicing to the souffle that is her tour de force. While the 30-year-old writer is “serious,” her whimsical pajamas foreshadow her emergence as a child and the child’s accidental mess with popcorn contributes to the plot as providing the reason why the child-like outlook disappeared as well as the catalyst for the salvation of the author’s creativity.

The use of language and its fluctuation also allowed us to imagine what language is spoken to be part of the transformation and return.

Even the temperature was utilized to the fullest – as it is a sunny winter day. You can figure out why that works yourself.

Yiqing Zhao is a smart talented resourceful artist and filmmaker and someone to look out for.


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