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After the Storm Review

"Hirokazu Kore-da subtly examines the philosophy behind the family dynamic within the effervescence of realistic society."

After the Storm is the most recent film from the acclaimed director, Hirokazu Kore-da (Our Little Sister; Like Father, Like Son, Still Walking), subtly examines the philosophy behind the family dynamic between youthful hope and imagine and the realities of adulthood.

After the Storm; Credit: ar:pr

The film opens with a mother (Krin Kiki) and daughter gearing up for a typhoon to make landfall.  The discussion appears somewhat trivial – food, family and the neighborhood are all topics of discussion.  The quick discussion; however, sets the tone for the entire film. Brevity and subtleties tend to work together, even if on the facade seem like an unlikely pairing. Several thematic elements of the film are discussed within these first three minutes, all of which were overshadowed by a pot of stew. That is how life works sometimes – meaning can be generated from the most minute or the most common situations. It is how one construes or how one is made aware of this meaning is where the art of perception lies.  Kore-da is well aware of that.

The film “quickly” shifts to Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), the son in the familial diagram. He is a prize-winning author who now acquires money as a private detective. He insists that the move is only temporary whilst he’s researching for his new book. Instead of devoting time to the new work, Ryota ends up confiding in gambling, whatever the form. His gambling addiction also has thwarted the progression of his family life – having been recently divorced with his wife and he is only permitted to visit with his son on a monthly basis. The death of his father brings him back to the housing projects where he grew up. Ryota is muddled with the struggles of his mother and the similar addictions of his father to complement his current platter of lackluster offerings. At least a storm is coming to cleanse the palate.

After the Storm; Credit: ar:pr

Ryota’s addiction is at the apex of his hopelessness.  The gambling, the inability to write another novel, his mother’s living situation, the divorce, and his inability to father his child all stem from the same seed (note the tangerine tree reference and the lack of fruit it bears when watching the film). Ryota is a sufferer from his ability to dream and his inability to reason; the exact act that we are encouraged as a child.

As an illustration – there is a scene within the film where Ryota buys lottery tickets with his son, Shingo. This was also an act that he and his father shared. Ryota’s ex-wife, Kyoko (Maki Yoko) isn’t pleased when she becomes aware that her son was exposed to the lottery at a young age.  The fear seems somewhat grounded in light of his father’s current gambling engagements.  However, Ryota’s response denies that the lottery invokes any gambling connotation. To him, the lottery ticket represents an unattainable dream. The act of reaching for one’s dream against insurmountable odds is something that a father should share with his son; but not share with himself as dictated by the outside world.

Even with his torment, Ryota still dares to encourage his son.  He provides where he can (with food and baseball cleats), but fails to provide where he should.  Ryota’s inability to refocus from the path in which he desired his life to go, prevents him from ever walking upon it again.  Shingo witnesses his father’s somewhat circular existence.  It is only appropriate that after seeing his father’s current outcome, he has less of a desire to achieve. Shingo would rather take a walk when he is at bat in baseball than to ever hit a home run.  The exact qualities in which Ryota wishes to instill upon his son have been stricken away from his palate due to society’s (or maybe Ryota’s) inability to conform.

The subtle complexities in Kore-da’s films create a waning flow with a fortuitous underbelly.  While After the Storm doesn’t resonate to the level of Nobody Knows or to Still Walking, the philosophy remains intact.  The thematic elements within After the Storm are engulfed by ordinary people.  Some are more evident than others to identify, but the connotations are fluid.  It is often an interesting analysis to dissect the relationship between the familial dynamic and that of general society.  We teach to be unique, but forces are there to assimilate.  Kore-da uses After the Storm to dictate the contrarian philosophies and highlight that we all suffer from similar plights.  You do not have to look too far to hear a story.

Awards/Accolades:

Screen Awards 2016:

Nominated – Event Cinema Campaign of the Year

Screen Awards 2015:

Nominated – Event Cinema Campaign of the Year &

Home Entertainment Campaign of the Year

Screen Awards 2014:

Winner – Home Entertainment Campaign of the Year

Nominated – Premiere of the Year

 

Credit:  Arrow Films, ar:pr

Rating
7.5
Pros
  • The film is about ordinary life - we all can relate.
  • An interesting examination into how family moves in unison with and in contrary to outside society.
Cons
  • The subtle flow of the film may be too inactive for some.

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