‘After the Storm’ a tender look at life and love

First Published      Last Updated Apr 21 2017 01:45 pm

Few filmmakers get the rhythms of real life, and the ups and downs of relationships, onto the screen as elegantly and honestly as the Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda — and his latest domestic drama, "After the Storm," is loaded with those doses of reality.

Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is the tallest guy around, but in many ways that's the most remarkable thing about him. He lives alone, divorced from Kyoko (Yoko Maki), and he sees his son, Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa), only once a month — if he's paid up on his child support.

Ryota mostly keeps up on Shingo's doings because of his job as a private detective, which he's doing as research for a novel he's working on. His first novel won some awards, but that was years ago and he hasn't written anything since. He scrounges money from his pensioner mom, Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki), and his judgmental sister, Chinatsu (Satomi Kobayashi) — but he wastes much of it gambling, a habit he inherited from his recently departed father.

The storm in the title is a typhoon, which hits late in the film and puts Ryota in close contact with several members of his family at once — allowing some long-simmering issues to come to the surface.

Before that, though, Kore-eda (who wrote and directed) simply lets us live in the shoes of Ryota. We see, thanks to Kore-eda's shrewd observations and Abe's sympathetic performance, a man who could have a good life if he didn't regularly get in his own way. Given the chance, he could be a good father, a good husband, a good son, a good brother, a good detective, a good writer — if he could only get his act together.

There is resolution in the end of "After the Storm," though Kore-eda doesn't wrap things up too neatly. He's trying to capture life, and he shows us with gentle humanity that life is usually messy.




‘After the Storm’

A divorced dad tries to straighten out his messed-up life in this thoughtfully rendered drama.

Where » Broadway Centre Cinemas.

When » Opens Friday, April 21.

Rating » Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and sexual references.

Running time » 117 minutes; in Japanese with subtitles.