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One Movie Punch

Jan 31, 2018

Today’s movie is “After the Storm” (2016), an independent Japanese family drama centered around Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), a former novelist and current private detective struggling with a gambling addiction, paying child support to his ex-wife, Kyôko (Yôko Maki), dealing with the death of his estranged father, worrying about his mother (Kilin Kiki), and working at being a father to his son, Shingo (Taiyô Yoshizawa). The film debuted in 2016 and had a limited release last year in the United States.

Hirokazu Kore-eda wrote the film, crafting a script that genuinely unfolds and unpacks the characters and their relationships in the days before a typhoon is set to reach the mainland. Kore-eda does a great job giving you enough background to give you a sense of each character, but with each new conflict and struggle, particularly with Ryota, you begin to see subtle details that make you re-evaluate everyone and every situation. Hiroshi Abe turns Ryota into a lovable, well-meaning person, if hopelessly flawed.

I was particularly struck by the relationship between Ryota and his mother. Kilin Kiki gives a truly remarkable performance, a perfect foil for Ryota, someone who knows him intimately as his mother, but still struggling to understand herself after losing her husband. Even when she is in the background, she makes her presence known and affects the characters.

In addition to the quality performances and script, however, are excellent locations, not only giving a wide swath of Japanese urban life, but also keeping a pedestrian feel to the story. I also very much enjoyed the music selections, which always augment the scene and particularly the emotion within that scene. Even the filters help define the tone.

“After The Storm” (2016) is exquisite and deserved an Oscar nomination, whether in 2016 or for this year given the limited release. It has a solid script and great performances, and wastes very little. It is rare to watch a film this subtle, playful and genuine that puts emotion over resolution, realism over desire. If you are looking to escape for a couple hours into a family drama that will warm your heart and challenge your perspective, this is the film for you.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (CERTIFIED)

Metacritic: 84

One Movie Punch: 9.2/10

“After The Storm” (2016) is not rated and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.