After the Storm (2016)

After the Storm (2016) is a Japanese film by director Hirokazu Kore-Eda. The storylines of Kore-Eda’s award-winning previous films, Still Walking (2008) and Like Father, Like Son(2013), have focused on the relationship between father and child. After the Storm continues this tradition to a certain extent. The difference is that although the plot in After the Storm focuses on the paternal relationship, the bond between a mother and her child is far more prevalent in this case.  The title of the film can be somewhat perplexing, due to the film’s slow-paced turn of events. Filmmakers will often use themes to invoke emotions and build suspense in certain scenarios. Kore-Eda uses a meteorology theme to create such a sensation.  After the Storm’s dialogue continually refers to an approaching typhoon and this highlights the film’s denouement.

After the Storm tells the story of Ryota (Hiroshi Abe).  So far in his life, he has not been the best son. Due to a series of events, he is forced to realise he is now not a very good father to his own son. In fact, he now realises that he is more like his father than he would care to admit. Ryota comes to this understanding because of the strong women in his life; mother, sister and ex-wife.  Therefore, the fundamental roles of gender within the film is one of the most interesting features in After the Storm.  The opening scene holds an immense amount of importance in relation to an overall film analysis. There is a beautiful intimate conversation between a mother and daughter and if you are not paying attention you may miss the sentiment. Shinoda Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki), Ryota’s mother in the film, is by far the star of the film. The character of Shinoda is fun, loving and has the most adorable sense of humour.  I looked forward to every one of her scenes and admired her attitude toward life.

Inside Shinoda’s house is where the warm and fuzzy feelings of the film occurred. She lives in a tiny apartment in a Japanese metropolitan city. Her furniture barely fits inside the area and on top of that she occasionally had multiple family members there.  Cinematographer Yutaka Yamasaki commendably captured the handsome 6-foot 2-inch stature of Hiroshi Abe in such a tight space.  Most scenes were quite comical when all the family was gathered together in the small home.  However, when the camera zoomed in on close-up shots of Shinoda preparing meals in her tiny kitchen, there were moments of beauty and a wholesome raw aesthetic that made me miss home-cooked meals of yesterday. I could smell the meal she was preparing.

Overall, I really did enjoy watching After the Storm and if I were to summarize the film’s sentiment into one sentence it would be that: it’s never too late to turn your life around.  

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