Film Notes: After the Storm (2016) [Original title: Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku] directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu

JP / 117 min / Color / AOI Promotion Inc. Dir: Kore-eda Hirokazu Pro: Kaoru Matsuzaki, Akihiko Yose, Hijiri Taguchi Scr: Kore-eda Hirokazu Cine: Yutaka Yamasaki Mus: Hanaregumi Cast: Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, Yôko Maki, Lily Franky, Isao Hashizume, Sôsuke Ikematsu,Satomi Kobayashi, Taiyô Yoshizawa Synopsis: Dwelling on his past glory as a prize-winning author, Ryota wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother and beautiful ex-wife seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a lasting place in the life of his young son – until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again. Release Dates:  18 May 2016 (Cannes Film Festival); 21 May 2016 (Japan); 11 November 2016 (Spain)  Original title: Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku Spanish title: Después de la tormenta IMDb Rating: 7.8. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

MV5BYWM2ZGNlZTQtNjA3MS00Y2JlLWE5Y2ItOWVmZGFlMTQ0NWIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDgxMDU4NTU@._V1_Begoña and I had the opportunity to see yesterday After the Storm, the last film by Kore-eda Hirokazu. By this filmmaker, I had already seen before his film Still Walking (my previous post entry in Spanish is here).  Kore-eda Hirokazu presents another film that has reminded me very much to his previous one, both in its theme and by its slow pace. However, the end result is quite entertaining, the film is sustained by its good dialogues with some very funny sentences. In any case it’s worthwhile seeing it.

Award-winning and critically acclaimed director Kore-eda Hirokazu returns with a powerful story of family ties remade, drawing more deeply than ever on his personal memories and experience.

Original Concept and Screenplay

The conception of the idea for this film goes back to 2001. “After my father died, my mother started living by herself in a housing estate,” says Kore-eda Hirokazu. “When I went back home to see her during the New Year’s holiday, I thought that someday I’d like to shoot a story about this estate. The first thing that came to mind was a scene of walking through the complex of buildings with grass that had become very beautiful the morning after a typhoon. I had memories from when I was a child about picking up fallen tree branches on my way to school. I remember how beautiful the estate was after the storm.” From there, focusing on the events that occur on the night of a typhoon, the story of a family began to take shape. Kore-eda started writing the script in the summer of 2013. The following words were written on the first page: It’s not like everyone can become what they wanted to be. “I thought this was a story pertaining to such a motif,” he says. “So I made Ryota a man who works at a detective agency even though he wants to be a novelist. Not just at work, but at home too – where he is a son, a husband, a father, and a younger brother – he can’t do anything right.” The film’s protagonist desires success as a writer while working at a detective agency under the pretense of research. Although he married and fathered a child, he has destroyed his family through an inability to stop gambling. The life he leads both at and away from work is very different from that which he once imagined. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” And Ryota is not the only one… The same is true for the other characters we meet in the film. Kore-eda: “Burdened with a hopeless reality, and unable to give up on one’s dream – it is for this very reason that happiness remains unattainable. This is a story that takes an intimate look at the present of people of the way they really are.” All the characters experienced great difficulties in becoming the adults they wanted to be when they were kids. Even so, they continue to try and find a way to enjoy life, however different it might be from the future they dreamt of. “Incorporating the changes that occurred within me after my mother and father died, it’s the film that is most coloured by what I am,” says Kore-eda. “After I die, if I’m taken in front of God or the Judge of the Afterlife and asked: “What did you do down on earth?” I think I would first show them After the Storm. (Kore-eda Hirokazu)

Filming at the Housing Complex

Filming took place at the Asahigaoka Housing Complex in Kiyose, Tokyo, where director Kore-eda himself lived between the ages of 9 and 28. Residents who had known him would come to the set to see what was going on and to offer their congratulations for what felt like something of a triumphant return. “The housing estate itself wasn’t able to become what it wanted to be, either.” Kore-eda said this because this complex that was built all over Japan as multiple dwelling homes that everyone wanted at one time has issues with dilapidation and aging of its residents, encountering conditions different from what was initially imagined. Along with a sense  of nostalgia, Kore-eda shows us an overlapping of the seclusion of the housing estate with the sadness of characters who have been unable to become what they wanted to be. The portrayal of people living their daily lives is similar to Still Walking, but  a story set in a housing complex gives a more down-to-earth perspective. Kore-eda:  “In Still Walking, the parents’ home was a private clinic, the setting was affluent,  so perhaps there was some sort of link to Ozu. But as for the worldview this time around, the setting is a housing estate, and the character’s lifestyle is lower key, duller in color.  I get the feeling it somewhat resembles Naruse Mikio.”

Director / Writer / Editor: Kore-eda Hirokazu

Born 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. After graduating from Waseda University in 1987, Kore-eda joined TV Man Union where he directed several prize-winning documentary programs.  In 2014, he launched his production company Bun-Buku. In 1995, his directorial debut, Maborosi, based on the original novel by Miyamoto Teru, won the 52nd Venice International Film Festival’s Golden Osella. After Life (1998), distributed in over 30 countries, brought Kore-eda international acclaim. In 2001, Distance was selected in Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and the star of his fourth work Nobody Knows (2004), Yagira Yuya garnered much attention for becoming the youngest person ever to receive the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actor Award. In 2006, Hana, a film centered on vengeance, became his first attempt at a period piece.  In 2008, he presented the family drama Still Walking, which reflected his own personal experiences, and received high praise from around the world. In 2009, Air Doll made its world premiere in Un Certain Regard at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and was widely-praised for marking a new frontier in its depiction of a sensual love fantasy. In 2011, I Wish won the Best Screenplay Award at the 59th San Sebastian International Film Festival. In 2012, he made his TV series directorial debut with Going Home. Like Father, Like Son (2013), winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, received the audience awards at San Sebastian, Vancouver, and Sao Paulo International Film Festivals and broke the box office records of his previous films in many territories.  In 2015, Our Little Sister premiered in Competition at  the Cannes Film Festival, and received five awards including Best Film and Best Director at Japan Academy Prize, as well as the Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival.. Kore-eda has also produced films for young Japanese directors. Kakuto, directed by Iseya Yusuke, premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2003. Wid Berries (2003) was written and directed by Nishikawa Miwa whose second feature Sway premiered in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 2006. Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salesman (2011) by Sunada Mami moved audiences worldwide.

(Source: Cannes Festival Press Release)

Film review at The Hollywood Reporter

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