After the Storm
Ryota is an unpopular writer although he won a literary award 15 years ago. Now, Ryota works as a private detective. He is divorced from his ex-wife Kyoko and he has an 11-year-old son Shingo. His mother Yoshiko lives alone at her apartment. One day, Ryota, his ex-wife Kyoko, and son Shingo gather at Yoshiko's apartment. A typhoon passes and the family must stay there all night long.
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★★★★★ review by YI JIAN on Letterboxd
YOU LAUGH AND YOU CRY, YOU LAUGH AND CRY AT THE SAME TIME, YOU REALIZE THAT THE ARRIVAL OF A STORM IS INEVITABLE, BUT WHAT YOU CAN CHANGE IS YOUR OWN ATTITUDE, YOUR ENDURANCE, YOUR PATIENCE TO SIT THROUGH IT, AND OF COURSE LIKE ALL STORMS IT WILL EVENTUALLY PASS, THE SKY WILL CLEAR UP AND SO WILL YOUR KOKORO, CLOUDS WILL PART TO MAKE WAY FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES, TRAINS WILL START RUNNING AGAIN, NO USE HOLDING ONTO YOUR FAVORITE UMBRELLA THAT'S ALREADY BROKEN, EVERYTHING WILL BE DAIJOBU. SORRY FOR THE CAPS I AM JUST SO EMOTIONAL AT THE MOMENT, THIS IS THE MOST INVIGORATING FILM I'VE SEEN IN SUCH A LONG TIME.
★★★★½ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
feeling the transience of your father's spirit
in the passing of the swallowtail before you;
but whistle hello before his wings flap too far
and wait, with a grin, for the next fleeting visit.
★★★★ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd
We must approach life like a cup of ices that has frozen solid: Just keep chipping away. There are no shortcuts.
★★★★½ review by Chris on Letterboxd
I think, if only I could wish this into existence, Hirokazu Koreeda should make a hour long TV drama series. At the end of all of his movies I just want to spend more time with his characters. I want to see what more will happen to them. I want to see how their relationships will develop, grow, fall apart. Koreeda's films are sometimes filled with familiar figures (in After the Storm there's the ne'er-do-well father, the frustrated ex-wife, the hopeful, yet realistic mother, and the also hopeful and realistic child), characters we have seen again and again, but they are so well-crafted and just so damn human that they deserve a longer existence than they are given.
What joy I would have if I could see Kirin Kiki on a weekly basis dealing with her family. Between her great performance here and her slightly greater performance in Koreeda's earlier Still Walking she is probably my favorite matriarch in all of cinema. She made me both laugh and tear up in this film. It's clearly a supporting role, but when she is on the screen it does not feel like it. Her subtleties have such power. To have the opportunity to see her more frequently would probably be asking too much. But I'll still ask.
Koreeda's films are often sweet, and this one is no different. But After the Storm is also quite funny. The humor is of course found in the everyday, but that's where Koreeda's movies exist. There is nothing astounding about the plot, no larger machinations at work. And even though his movies are often sweet there is a lack of sentimentality to them. Sure your heart is tested at times (and honestly, even though this my be a funny movie it also may be Koreeda's saddest too), but all emotions are well-earned.
The only true plot device is the titular storm, which forces a broken family to remain together for the night. Most of the last act is given to this night. Again there is humor and sadness, and a wonderful sequence in torrential ran as the characters literally chase down their dreams, as unlikely as they might be.
In the end it adds up to a very satisfying experience. And like most of Koreeda's films I felt it ended too soon. But at the same time it ended when it need to. And while I wish I had more time in this world, I am glad for the time I got.
★★★★½ review by Vincent Lao on Letterboxd
After a string of mid-tier works, Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda finally marks his best work since Still Walking. In this exquisitely-told, mellow After the Storm, a disillusioned father gets pulled back to the ground after realizing the process of “letting go” after spending time with his family. Kore-eda hones a beautiful, thought-provoking portraiture of a working-class family left in a deep, existential clout—further establishing Kore-eda as one of world cinema’s master dramatists.
In After the Storm, every character has their dreams and hopes that they know they will not accomplish, yet they don’t dwell in sorrow or hopelessness. Except for Ryota, an unsuccessful writer/part-time detective who dwells in the casinos/gambling for an escape after being divorced with his wife. But with all life’s mysteries, something happens after the storm. A profound understanding came into his head. He lets go of his pride, ego, and oneself. He then realized that there is much more to do than to dwell on things that’s already been in the past.
Kore-eda’s natural strength as a dramatist is his careful, sensitive attention to his characters. In his films, he gives each of them focus and agency to act and decide for their lives, whether it’s good or bad. Ryota is such a wonderfully-realized character because he does not please the viewer. He lets his flaws and shortcomings penetrable to the light. Another great strength of Kore-eda’s films is his thoughtful, wise elderly figures, which transcends their image as full-bodied characters not just life mentors. There’s a beautiful exchange between Ryota and his old mother about life and it actually made me warm inside.
The acting is splendid. Hiroshi Abe (Ryota) is wonderful along with child actor Taiyo Yoshizawa (Shingo). But it’s veteran actress Kirin Kiki who devastated me in every scene of hers. An embodiment of heartbreak and grace, she musters every woman whose hopes came away, yet is still welcoming of life’s unpredictable ways. In the end, I saw myself and my family within After the Storm. It is a carefully-drawn, and measured scope of the lives and trials of the working-class. Indeed, this is one of Kore-eda’s best.
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