Akira Yamamoto’s “After The Fever” (2023) follows an enigmatic set of lovers who get caught up in long-winding periods of misery. Reminiscent of the narration style of Hong Sang-soo, it consists of long passages of silence besides lengthy conversations, where people theorize their emotions more than they feel them. The script is relatively thin, which can make even the film’s roughly two-hour runtime feel longer than needed. Yet, the acting performances by Ai Hashimoto, Taiga Nakano, and Mai Kiryu may keep you hooked on the film’s lingering style.

Spoilers Ahead

After the Fever (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

“After the Fever” primarily follows Sanae, who gets married to Kenta after a particularly passionate but punishing relationship with someone else. The film follows them trying to figure out how to move on with their lives while making peace with some immutable parts of their circumstances.

What happens in ‘After the Fever’?

“After the Fever” follows Sanae Sonoda (Ai Hashimoto), a young woman who was in unrequited love with a man who was in a committed relationship. At the time, she was accused of hurting him, for which she went to prison. Six years later, her mother sets her up on a date with Kenta Koizumi (Taiga Nakano), a forestry worker. Throughout their meeting, Sanae’s mother takes the initiative to speak while Sanae remains mostly silent. Then, before leaving, Sanae’s mother has a brief word with Kenta. She seems quite impatient to get her daughter married.

Kenta asks Sanae to join him for a drive to the woods. Along the way, he reveals that he lied to her, and it isn’t Suzuki. He also told Sanae’s mother about it. But she didn’t care. She wanted Sanae to get married to someone, no matter who. Sanae wonders why Kenta came to the matchmaking interview if he doesn’t want to marry anyone. Perhaps to dissuade him, she reveals that she once stabbed a man she loved. Since this man didn’t die, she was recently released from prison. Unlike her, Kenta doesn’t think that love needs to be all-encompassing. He points out how her obsessive love made her so lifeless.

What happens between Sanae & Kenta?

Soon after the matchmaking interview, Kenta gets married to Sanae. Together, they move into his house near the woods. Although she doesn’t hold much hope about her future, Kenta patiently waits for her to come around and be open to new possibilities. Sanae feels like she is temporarily alive because she cannot communicate her feelings to Kenta. She finds their mutual affection superficial, unlike the intense passion she felt for her former lover. But she accepts that she feels happy and relaxed with Kenta. So, her doctor tries to make her hopeful about their union.

While Sanae is away, Kenta meets Yoshiko (Mai Kiryu) by accident. After Kenta helps her clear the trees in front of her house, Yoshiko talks about her past, her present, and her love of farming. Once, she had a blonde boyfriend with whom she grew some illegal plants. But he put them on fire and ran away. Meanwhile, in the city, Sanae bumps into a blonde man and decides to join him on a date. But she leaves before he returns with the drinks. Before leaving, she asks him about her former lover, Hayato Mochizuki. Soon after, the blonde man realizes that Hayato is the man who was almost killed.

What does Sanae learn about Yoshiko?

While picking up Sanae from the city, Kenta offers Yoshiko a ride to the train station. Upon reaching there, Yoshiko behaves as if she already knows Sanae, which confuses her. Kenta says he didn’t tell Yoshiko about Sanae’s past. He believes Yoshiko might be a crime story fanatic and knows Sanae because of it. Back home, Sanae & Kenta suddenly start talking about their perspective on wars. Sanae thinks they won’t know the experience until they are part of one. On the other hand, Kenta has a much more light-hearted, innocent solution to end all wars.

​​After the Fever (2023) Movie Ending Explained
A still from ​​After the Fever (2023)

Soon after, Sanae bumps into Yoshiko at a supermarket. While walking with her on her farm, Sanae realizes that Yoshiko is actually Hayato’s wife, and they have a child together. Sanae gets scared of confrontation and runs away. At night, she tries to end her life by drowning in the water. Kenta notices her and saves her life. But she doesn’t say a single word about what she is feeling. So, he suddenly decides to move to another house, perhaps hoping the change of place can help her with her mental health.

What happens to Sanae?

Kenta speculates if Sanae is jealous of the woman he helped or still thinks about her former lover. He considers Hayato vile & worthless. Sanae cannot tolerate Hayato’s insult. She reveals how Hayato helped a dying woman. Kenta still points out that Hayato used Sanae for his benefit. Soon after, Sanae receives a call from the police about Hayato’s disappearance. Suddenly, she shows to Yoshiko’s doorstep and joins her at the church. They speak with each other in the confession box. Yoshiko wants Sanae to not lie, and to help find missing Hayato.

Sanae argues for her definition of passionate love. Yoshiko doesn’t believe that to be the case. She expects Sanae to be emotionally mature and move from her past. Devastated by this conversation, Sanae goes straight to the police station and pleads to the officers to put her behind bars. The officers call Kenta to take her back home. While walking back, Kenta tells Sanae that the thought of their relationship scares him. So, he plans to end their relationship. That night, he meets some friends for food & drinks, gets drunk, and takes out his frustration on someone else who speaks about her healthy relationship.

After the Fever (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Even after Yoshiko’s confrontation, Sanae remains in an emotional shell. She visits the clinic to speak with the doctor. Right outside, she meets the blonde man she met earlier. He tells her that Hayato sent him to invite her to a planetarium screening. Meanwhile, Hayato returns home to meet Yoshiko and leaves with some of his personal belongings. She shows them to Kenta. Sanae says he gifted her one of those things, thinking it would make him return to her. She also tells about her date, which upsets Yoshiko. Yoshiko says she still loves Hayato.

Meanwhile, Sanae’s actions annoy Kenta, who lashes out at her. He wants her to move on from her past & let go of her rigid definition of love. Kenta is so hurt that he kisses another woman in front of Sanae. Then, he asks her to stab him to end his suffering. Later that night, the woman from earlier tells Kenta that she’s in love with him. So, he prepares to elope with her. For some reason, they decide to end each other’s lives as if they’re parts of a Shakespearean play. After they consume some drugs, she falls asleep. He assumes she died and leaves. But she follows him to his car and stabs him with a knife.

What happens to Sanae & Kenta’s relationship?

In the planetarium, Sanae meets Hayato and opens up to him about her feelings. That conversation acts as a closure for her to their relationship and also to understand that the past cannot be repeated. Soon after, she picks up Kenta from the hospital after he gets discharged. She talks about her interaction with Hayato. Sanae felt like Hayato tried to accept her love for the first time. She accepts that they both have changed and their relationship has no future. After admitting that, she and Kenta resume their relationship. The film’s vague ending hints at the same future.

Read More: 10 Great Asian Films You Can Watch on Netflix

Trailer:

After the Fever (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd
The Cast of  After the Fever (2023) Movie: Ai Hashimoto, Taiga Nakano, Mai Kiryu
After the Fever (2023) Movie Genre: Drama/Crime/Mystery & Thriller/Romance | Runtime: 2h 7m

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