Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom is an Irish film by director Daniel O’Hara. Our story chooses to focus on Chinese born Yu Ming, a man utterly disillusioned with his life in China, seemingly discontent with his mundane, monotonous job. On a whim, he decides to spin a globe and choose a random destination to which he will travel and relocate for the foreseeable future. Closing his eyes and allowing fate to take over, his finger eventually lands on one of the smallest countries; Ireland. This swift decision leads him to learn Gaelic in an attempt to attune himself to the spoken language of his future home; however, upon his arrival he finds he simply cannot communicate with anyone. Unsurprising, when even the locals can’t understand their own language. What ensues is the charming tale of a foreigner who understands the complexities of a dying language, but doesn’t realise the continual redundancy of it.
This is certainly a film’s insight into the idea of identity and indeed the loss of it. A Chinese man lacks a sense of belonging in his country, so he takes to learning another language in order to fit into another. He simply wants to find a place where he is respected amongst his peers, and to find a sense of fulfilment in life. However, the film goes further than simply highlighting how English has forced the Irish to abandon their own language, but dips into other issues of globalisation. Yu Ming isn’t the only expat wandering around Dublin. There is an Aussie receptionist, and his Mongolian colleague; a scene between them really demonstrating this underlying issue. The Aussie asks his colleague to speak Chinese with Yu Ming, only for the Mongolian to point out that he isn’t Chinese and thus cannot help. It’s moments like these that show the depth of the subject matter.
There is flavour to this short film though. It isn’t moping around looking for sympathy, but actively using humour, charm and vibrance as well. Daniel O’Hara should be commended for taking an obviously personal issue and addressing it in a way that doesn’t dip into obvious sentimentalism, but invites the viewer to walk with our main character and understand the complexities of cultural barriers. Daniel Wu is perfectly suited to the role of Yu Ming, his sense of comic timing very astute, and his naivety as a character testament to his understanding of how best to play a wandering, lost soul. O’Hara should be very proud of what he’s achieved here. He’s combined a tense issue of loss of a national identity with great wit and charisma to create a film that is thoroughly enjoyable as well as being incredibly poignant.