Hiroshi Abe (left) tries to stay connected to his son (Taiyo Yoshikawa) in After The Storm.
AFTER THE STORM (Hirokazu Kore-eda). 117 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (March 17). See Listing. Rating: NNNN
Following his manga adaptation Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Kore-eda is back writing his own material for After The Storm, a drama about precise emotional shifts in a splintered family unit. It’s what most of his movies are about, Our Little Sister included, but that’s why I love him.
Set mostly in the suburbs of Tokyo, After The Storm zeroes in on the perpetually weary Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), who wrote a well-received book 15 years ago and has been researching the next one ever since.
At least that’s what he tells people; really, he’s slouching through a job as a private detective, wasting money on every form of gambling available to him and worried that his ex-wife (Yoko Maki) and son (Taiyo Yoshizawa) are falling for a new suitor.
In the hopes of sparking a reconciliation, Ryota conspires to get everyone together in his widowed mother’s (Kiki Kirin) cramped apartment to see what happens. It does not go smoothly, thanks only in part to an approaching typhoon.
Kore-eda’s long been drawn to stories of damaged relationships and broken trust, so After The Storm occasionally feels like a remix of 2008’s Still Walking, 2011’s I Wish and 2013’s Like Father, Like Son – but never in a derivative way.
Instead, thanks to a subplot about Ryota’s work, we’re left with the sense that similar stories, with just minor variations in the details, are happening everywhere. As for this particular story, it’s a rich, thoughtful character study that stands with its author’s finest work.