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After The Storm [2016] – JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival Review

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“It’s not that easy growing up to be the man you want to be.”AfterTheStorm1

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After The Storm is about people who can’t say farewell to the people they were before. A mother who wishes to see her kid happy in spite of him being a late bloomer, A son (who is also a father) who wishes to write the best novel he could possibly churn out of his angst, broken dreams and an eye for noticing people while mending all that has been broken with his lack of concern, A wife (who is also a mother) who wishes her husband to be a bit more concerned with his existence and the happiness of his son and an estranged kid who wishes to hold them all together within that secret hiding spot that can keep them safe from the storm called life. 

Kore-eda is a master. He weaves such beautiful and heart-warming family dramas out of thin air and presents them on the dining table of love, loss, and regret that even the most melancholic moments seem like a ray of hopeful sunshine. After Still Walking, Koreeda’s After the Storm again has a lot of autobiographical elements which make it a rich and intense study of Kore-eda’s own life. While being that, After the Storm has a universal appeal to it. Meaning, it takes up everything that a person goes through in the course of his life. He loses people, faces failure and wishes to mend everything with one single gesture. 

After The Storm is about Ryota (Abe) who once won  an award for his first novel and has been since trying to bring out the best he can, failing at every turn. His muse (and wife) Kyoko (Yoko Maki), has deserted him. Mostly because of his gambling addiction and a lack of concern towards being a good father & a responsible husband. Royate doesn’t seem to like his new job of being a detective. Firstly because his gambling addiction doesn’t seem to slide off, secondly because he meets people who are somehow a spitting image of what Ryota once was. 

After the Storm3

The films greatly explore Ryota and his relationship with his mother and his son. While his son Shingo has been portrayed as a doe-eyed, innocent little boy, his thought process is beyond his years. He understands that his father is not exactly a father-figure and yet he embraces him with all his flaws and regressive vibes. Kore-eda’s lens widens when he puts Ryota in front of his wise mother Shinoda (played by the ever fabulous Kirin Kiki) and explores their wondrous dynamic. Their regrets, their lives, their loss, and their constant jibber-jabber about what their life could have been.

As a child, one dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. While getting to that point takes all kinds of pit-stops, sometimes your life turns out differently from what you’ve imagined. Kore-eda himself confesses that he wanted to be a successful writer and not a film-maker and somehow things didn’t work his way. After the Storm tells us that it’s totally okay to have failed at what you wanted to be because life doesn’t end there. What’s most important is to not undo the past, but correct all the imperfections that hinder the present.

After the  Storm brings a gentle, touching and often funny approach to family dynamics that doesn’t resign to overly-loud and docile approach of figuring out small truths about individuality, fractured relationships and all the regrets that somehow make you a wiser person. 

★★★★1/2

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Q & A at TIFF, 2016.

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