March 30, 2017
After the Storm Japan
Showtimes: 6:30 & 8:35 pm
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Cast: Hiroshi Abe, Yôko Maki, Taiyô Yoshizawa
Runtime: 117 minutes
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
“Japanese filmmaker Koreeda gently examines complex family relationships in this humane comedy by a matchless observer of everyday life.”—Paul Ennis, NOW Toronto
Best Non-USA Release, Online Film Critics Society Awards; Best Feature Nomination, Chicago International Film Festival; Un Certain Regard Nomination, Cannes Film Festival.
Hirokazu Koreeda (Like Father, Like Son) has proven himself a master at delineating the changing dynamics of Japanese family life. Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is something of a failure, but not always so. He once had high hopes, a young family and even wrote a prize-winning novel. But he’s frittered away his good luck on a gambling addiction and now works part-time as a detective, snooping on adulterous couples in order to make his child support. His ex-wife Kyoko (Yoko Maki) is losing patience and believes their 11-year-old son Shingo (Toyota Yoshizawa) might be better off without him in their life, and looks to her budding relationship with a more loudly prosperous businessman.
Ryota has an easy charm and humanity to him. His affection for his son and his fear of losing him are real but he can’t help messing up. As a last gasp, Ryota vies for Shingo’s love by taking him for a nice day out with a burger, new football boots and a trip to see Shingo’s beloved grandmother, a brilliantly warm-hearted turn from Kirin Kiki. A monsoon is on the way and the broken family might get one last chance to put itself back together. “Life is simple,” says the grandmother, pleased with herself. “I said something deep, didn’t I? Write it down. You can put that in your next novel.”
The melancholy of domestic discord is countered by the traditions of food, the warm humour of the family and the genuine love that can survive economic hardship and self-destructive behaviour.
The performances are brilliant and the script is full of delicious one-liners. A carefree but sad, whistling soundtrack comes in every now and then, hinting at a relaxed resignation that will hopefully heal into some form of mutual understanding. After the Storm is undoubtedly one of Koreeda’s best.
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