After the Storm
Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
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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★★★★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 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 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.
★★★★ review by Savannah Oakes on Letterboxd
"Written and directed by Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu, After the Storm follows Ryôta, a novelist turned private detective (but without all the gritty coolness) who finds himself lost after the death of his father. We meet Ryôta, first, before we see him. We hear his mother and sister discuss their disappointment and distrust in our troubled protagonist. When we finally catch a glimpse of Ryôta he is all smiles and modesty. The private detective visits his now widowed mother — a rare occurrence — but because of the introduction he’s given by his family we clearly see the Ryôta he’s pretending to be is not really him at all. The Ryôta we meet isn’t a grief stricken, compassionate son but instead a low-caliber con-artist. He sneaks through the house attempting to uncover his father’s leftover possessions so he can pawn them for money to pay the child support he’s behind on. The rest of the film follows Ryôta as he attempts to reconnect with his ex-wife and son despite resistance from all parties involved.
In truth, Ryôta is never what he appears to be, even to himself. With rare glimpses of his true identity we see him as a man struggling to discover, still, where he fits in the world. No longer writing, he’s lost any compass in his life. Now struggling with a gambling addiction that he inherited from his father, and may possibly pass on to his son, Ryôta seems to catch on to the fact that he’s not the person he desired to become. Though it must be noted he can never truly have that self-awareness. Instead he chooses to acknowledge what he can’t help but acknowledge: as a father, he has failed.
Despite the drama this story promises in its premise, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s film is surprisingly light. It is handled with precision and care, making each character appear real and honest despite the polite and formal nature of some of the encounters. The movie’s naturalism is challenged by the dramatic backdrop — a typhoon. The tropical cyclone is not used as a tragic set piece, but a simple component of the characters’ daily lives much like the inevitability of death. It’s the number of typhoons — twenty-three and twenty-four — that draws the audience’s attention and promises doom. The inclement weather is the manifestation of the chaos in their lives — if it can go wrong it will–but will it ever get better?"
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★★★★ 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.
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