Writer/Director Hirokazu Kore-eda
Truthful, real, delicate, and more than reminiscent of Mr. Kore-eda’s previous work, especially Still Walking, featuring the same actors in the mother/son relationship, Like Father, Like Son, and Our Little Sister. Kore-eda mines his personal history to tell the story of a father who has followed his dream to be a novelist and hit a dead end. He gambles unwisely, as his father before him and is more like him in other ways, much to his disappointment. He is divorced, behind on child support, makes excuses about paying up, and holds onto a notion of reconciliation with his wife, who may still love him but has accepted the reality that he is incapable as a father and provider.
As usual, Kore-eda focuses on the every day minutia of life to draw out deeper meaning, allowing his actors the space and pace to play the pauses between lines and the silences as much as the dialog. But he doesn’t rely on cliché or caricature that cheapens the story. These people are real, with real lives in all their complexities and contradictions, with no tidy solutions in sight. The writing and directing are superb, and the film keeps you thinking about the characters long after it has ended. A Must See.
- Justin Chang in the LA Times gives it the highest marks and notes Kore-eda’s mastery. “The lack of a similarly melodramatic hook — even the climactic typhoon of the title more or less behaves itself — may make “After the Storm” seem like a minor effort, when in fact it is the work of a filmmaker assured enough to hide his mastery in plain sight. Nothing is overemphasized, and nothing escapes his attention.”
- Bilge Ebiri in the Village Voice also gives it the highest marks and puts it on his 2017 favorite 25. “Kore-eda’s stories, such as they are, unfold in unlikely ways. He doesn’t play so much with structure, but with focus: He’ll allow a scene to go on and on before slipping in a crucial bit of narrative information that sends the story off in a new direction. That could result in chaos, but his absorption in these lives, his ability to imbue the slightest exchange or glance with warmth and humor, transfixes us. We can lose ourselves in these films — wondering what’s around every corner and what’s going on in the mind of even the most minor of characters. This love for people reflects back on the viewer. I walked out of After the Storm wanting to be a better person — and further convinced that Hirokazu Kore-eda isn’t just one of the world’s best filmmakers, but one of its most indispensable artists.”