After the Storm

 

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Another detailed domestic drama from Japan's Koreeda Hirokazu.

 
After the Storm

Abe Hiroshi

 

Although the Japanese writer/director Koreeda Hirokazu has sometimes resisted the comparisons made between his work and that of the late Ozu Yazujiro, the fact that so many of his films portray everyday domestic life and do so in such an unshowy way make it natural that their names should be linked. Koreeda's latest, After the Storm, is very much in his established style. The central character, Shinoda Ryota played by Abe Hiroshi, may be a private detective capable of raising money by extortion, but it is his family life that is central to the film. 

 

Consequently, After the Storm centres on Ryota's relationship with his young son, Shingo (Yoshizawa Taiyo), who lives with Ryota's ex-wife, Kyoko (Maki Yoko). Although Ryota's elderly mother Yoshiko (Kiki Kilin) is aware that her son has failed to fulfil himself, she would not be displeased if he should win back Kyoko. Furthermore, if that should happen it could be seen as beneficial to Shingo since he is close to his grandmother and affected by his parents' divorce.

 

As with Ozu, these people are portrayed with a strong sense of real life and with no forced drama. The players are all admirable and the film is worth seeing. All the same, I do not rate it as highly as Koreeda's masterpiece Still Walking (2008), or indeed its predecessor Our Little Sister (2015). Ryota may be a persuasive key figure but, knowing his weaknesses as we do, it would be beneficial if we were given more information about him. Before becoming a private detective he had been novelist who even now pretends to be at work on a new book. We are told that his novel had been a prizewinner but whether or not that was justified and why, if it was, his talent has dried up are matters not investigated. Since After the Storm has no strong resolution (Koreeda prefers to leave us wondering how Ryota's future will work out), the film would benefit from the kind of detail that would enable us to feel more concerned about him than we are. What we have on screen here is accomplished, but it doesn't leave the viewer with the sense of satisfaction that comes from watching what is self-evidently a major work.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Abe Hiroshi, Maki Yoko, Yoshizawa Taiyo, Kiki Kilin, Ikematsu Sosuke, Kobayashi Satomi, Lily Franky, Hashitsume Isao, Furutachi Kanji.

 

Dir Koreeda Hirokazu, Pro Matsuzaki Kaoru, Yose Akihiko and Taguchi Hijiri, Screenplay Koreeda Hirokazu, Ph Yamazaki Yutaka, Pro Des Mitsumatsu Keiko, Ed Koreeda Hirokazu, Music Hanaregumi, Costumes Kurosawa Kazuko.

 

Aoi Pro/Gaga/Fuji Television Network/Bandai Visual-Arrow Films.
118 mins. Japan. 2016. Rel: 2 June 2017. Cert. PG.