Subtle Humanity: Our Review of ‘After The Storm’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 21, 2017
Subtle Humanity: Our Review of ‘After The Storm’

There’s something to be said about that genuine, unadulterated beauty that we find in those subtle moments of life and it takes a storyteller truly attune with the human experience to really understand them and make them come to life on the big screen.  Enter writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda whose films capture that essence so damn well, and his latest After The Storm serves all that up as fate and circumstances allows a father who has fallen from grace in his own family a chance to redeem himself.

Ryota (Abe Hiroshi) can’t shake his past glory as an award winning author and ends up wasting what money he does make as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay his child support.  After the death of his father, his aging mother Yoshiko (Kiki Kilin) and his beautiful ex-wife Kyoko (Maki Yoko) seem to be moving on with their lives and without him.   Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family who think that he’s just looking for a cash fix, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a place in the life of his young son Shingo (Yoshizawa Taiyo).  He ends up spinning his wheels until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again and Ryota finds a way to get back into existence as a fully fledged member of his family.

Stories that cross language barriers and I mean REALLY cross language barriers are more special then I can even express some days, but for writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda it’s just another day at the office.  With After The Storm we get a beautiful mediation about the eternal struggle with being a better person and the person that we want to see ourselves as.

Koreeda as both writer and director allows for such subtle glimpses of humanity in every movie that he makes and here with After The Storm we get such raw and fragile humanity on display as our lead character is a tired and broken shell of a man who barely knows how to exist in the world that is around him.  He’s not necessarily despondent but he is self-destructive as his apathy towards the family life that he feels like he deserves.  Koreeda’s no signature languid pace plays into the narrative to damn near perfection on this effort as it allows everything to play out so honestly that it is just a marvel to watch unfold in front of our eyes.  He hits us with the hard truths of life like being slowly submerged into water.  We know what’s coming but we are never quite sure when to take a breath and it all makes for an emotional vibrant and bracing experience.

While so many of Koreeda’s films are truly about the ensemble, this film really is anchored by a surprisingly tender and epic leading performance.  Abe Hiroshi is the rock that this film needed.  As Ryota we get the desperation, confusion and shame of a man who has gotten lost along the way and doesn’t quite know which way to turn.  He never takes it to areas of overt dramatics or histrionics and allows us to feel the genuine and flawed warmth of the man.

It won’t be for everyone, but Koreeda’s After The Storm is yet another example of what a vital artist this man truly is as he creates stories that work for anyone looking to soak up and embrace the power that storytelling truly can unleash on the world.

  • Release Date: 3/17/2017
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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