Film Review: After the Storm「海よりもまだ深く」

After the Storm
海よりもまだ深く [Umi yori mo mada fukaku]
2016, Family Drama
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

After the Storm is another of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s examination of the everyday Japanese life. What better way to show the chaos within a family than letting it unfold amidst a backdrop of an impending storm?

Ryota (Abe Hiroshi), visits his mother, Yoshiko’s (Kirin Kiki) home right before a looming storm. There we get to know his past as a prize-winning novelist who now struggles to follow up his early success after years of failure. Now working as a detective in a pretence of doing research for his next novel, he struggles to find his footing and resorts to gambling in order to get by. But doing so makes him neglect his responsibilities to his ex-wife, Kyoko (Yoko Maki) and son, Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa) and continually fail to pay for child support.

Kyoko, Ryota, & Shingo

Ryota’s mother seems to have moved on from her husband’s death by joining clubs for the elderly. As what mother’s do, she continues to believe in Ryota, encouraging him both in his desire to write novels again and to becoming a good father. However both her children, Ryota and Chinatsu (her daughter) suspect each other of spongeing off from her pension. Chinatsu, by making Yoshiko pay for her daughter’s figure skating class and Ryota by pawning his father’s properties. And just like what mother’s do, she understands her children completely and despite her age, continue to sacrifice for their sake.

Ryota’s mother, Yoshiko played by Kirin Kiki

Being an unsympathethic character, we are shown different antics of Ryota. While playing detective, Ryota follows his ex-wife on a date with her boyfriend. He is afraid that if Kyoko remarries, he will no longer continue his relationship with his son. However Kyoko has grown tired of Ryota, for his failure to pay for child support and believing that he is not suited to family life. Kyoko’s rejection is Ryota’s fuel to finally realise what’s important for him, but is it too late? Will he save his relationship with his son?

These questions were in front of Ryota as they spend the night together in his mother’s house because of the storm. He tries desperately to establish a bond with his son by repeating an experience he had with his own father in the local playground during a storm. With grace and warmth, we are shown with such relatable characters who struggles to answer their biggest life questions and question their own personal destiny.

Overall it is a very touching film, able to show us the complicated and sometimes illogical ways in which a man chooses to live. Whether this is his only destiny, only he can say by continually living his life, moving forward after the storm.

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