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“After The Storm” is realistic, but not memorable

The Japanese film “After the Storm” tackles the popular subject of a dysfunctional family with divorced parents and a struggling father. Director Hirokazu Koreeda follows the life of Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), who has just experienced the death of his father and is struggling with seeing his son, who is in the care of his ex-wife. Ryota wrote a famous, award-winning novel over a decade ago and has fallen on hard times, gambling away what little money he received from his private detective job or borrowing from his sister or mother. “After the Storm” discusses multiple questions that surround Ryota’s life: “How do I want my son to know me?” “Who do I want to be?” “What do I want to be remembered for?”

The film follows Ryota through a day when his town is under the threat of a typhoon. He works as a detective to make some money to pay for rent and child support but then wastes it away at the race track or lottery tickets. He convinces others that his next book will be just as successful, yet constantly borrows money from his sister and mother. “After the Storm” is an extremely realistic portrayal of what life might be like for a man in this position. The unnoticeable soundtrack and cinematography is a nice break from action films or completely unrealistic stories that use movie-making techniques to cover the issues of the film. 

The difficulty of this film is that there is not much to say about it. It is a long, authentic portrayal of a very real situation. 

The most important thing to understand about “After the Storm” is that the movie is not a spectacle. It is not a movie for everybody to be drawn into and to enjoy the storytelling. The movie is made for people in similar situations or have such strong empathy for the character. I struggled most with identifying with Ryota because I have nobody to compare him to. It was difficult for me to enjoy the story because I was simply not drawn into the situation. Maybe it was the foreign language and the difference in national identity that separated me or maybe it was the filmmaking itself. I related my experience with “After the Storm” with the same experience I had watching “Boyhood” (2014) or “Babel” (2006). The three are long, tedious movies that portray nothing but reality. Nothing more, nothing less.

While I, personally, struggled to connect with the characters and the story, “After the Storm” is still a great feat in filmmaking in terms of cinematography, mise-en-scene, and writing. The acting is not overdone; the actors do not overdo their portrayals and the child actor is convincing of a shy, reserved kid. “After the Storm” is a great film that will probably be forgotten about in a few years just because of how simple everything is. There is nothing that stands out in particular that makes this a film to remember. 

Rating: B

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