Saturday, May 19, 2018

2018 Cannes Marathon: After the Storm

(Played in the Un Certain Regarde Section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival)

Written, directed, and edited by Hirokazu Koreeda, After the Storm is the story of a failed writer turned private detective who tries to reconnect with his ex-wife and son as he copes with his own failures in life as well as impending typhoon. The film is a family drama in which a man tries get his life on track as well as deal with his own shortcomings. Starring Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, and Yoko Maki. After the Storm is a touching yet evocative film from Hirokazu Koreeda.

The film follows a former novelist who works as a private detective that is trying to get his life on track as he learns his ex-wife is dating another man as he also deals with an upcoming typhoon coming near the home of his mother. It’s a film that has a simple premise as it plays into a man who had a lot of promise after his first novel but has been unable to create another as he’s only achieved critical success. Working as a private detective for an agency, Ryota Shinoda (Hiroshi Abe) barely makes the money and whatever huge payday het gets. He would gamble it away as he’s often late to pay child support and is reluctant to ask his mother Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki) for money as he had already helped pay for his father’s funeral.

Hirokazu Koreeda’s screenplay follows Ryota dealing with the shortcomings as he doesn’t get to see his son Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa) often though he would see his baseball game from afar where he notices his ex-wife Kyoko (Yoko Maki) with a new boyfriend. Even as he suspects his sister Chinatsu (Satomi Kobayashi) of getting money from her mother for her daughter’s figure skating lessons as it would play into the despair he endures in his life. Upon a day with Shingo as he asks him about Kyoko’s new boyfriend, it would be a major day where everyone would deal with the typhoon that is to come as it would bring revelations for everyone in Ryota’s family circle.

Koreeda’s direction is simple in its minimalist approach as there’s very little movement in the camera other than a few tracking shots of the characters walking outside in a park or near an apartment. Instead, much of Koreeda’s direction emphasizes on simple static shots whether it’s in a wide shot, a medium shot, or a close-up if it’s needed on a certain object. The lack of movement in the cameras help play into the dramatic elements of the film as well as a few comedic moments such as Ryota’s work as a private detective with his young partner Kento Machida (Sosuke Ikematsu). Much of it showcase Ryota’s own flaws as a person as he would sneak in at one point to talk to Shingo at a bathroom restaurant where Kyoko is having dinner with her new boyfriend. 

Also serving as the film’s editor, Koreeda maintains a style that is straightforward as it relates to the way the characters talk with one another with the film’s climax being at Yoshiko’s home where Ryota takes Shingo to meet his grandmother whom he’s fond of. When Kyoko arrives to pick up Shingo, Yoshiko suggests that Kyoko and Shingo should stay as it relates to this typhoon as there is that sense of danger over how intense the typhoon could be. It’s a moment where the family comes together and face this storm that could kill them or be something else. Overall, Koreeda crafts an intoxicating and rapturous film about a writer’s attempt to reconnect with his family and deal with his shortcomings in an impending typhoon.

Cinematographer Yutaka Yamasaki does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward to play into the look of the scenes at night including the climatic typhoon sequence as well as the naturalistic look for the scenes in the day. Art director Keiko Mitsumatsu and set decorator Akiko Matsuba do fantastic work with the look of Yoshiko’s apartment as well as the home that Ryota lives in. Costume designer Kazuko Kurosawa does nice work with the costumes as it is largely casual with the exception of the ragged suits that Ryota wears in his job. The sound work of Yutaka Tsurumaki is terrific for its naturalistic approach to the sound in capturing some of the sparse elements of the locations the characters encounter. The film’s music by Hanaregumi is wonderful for its low-key score that is emphasized largely by somber piano music with some folk-pop songs as part of the film’s soundtrack.

The casting by Toshie Tabata is superb as it feature a few notable small roles from Lily Franky as a magma writer offering Ryota a chance to contribute to a magma series and Sosuke Ikematsu as Ryota’s young partner Kento Machida who provides some commentary into Ryota’s situation. Satomi Kobayashi is wonderful as Ryota’s sister Chinatsu as a woman who is more responsible than her brother as she knows him very well about his financial situation as she is trying to get her daughter’s figure skating career going. Taiyo Yoshizawa is fantastic as Shingo as Ryota’s son who copes with his mother’s new boyfriend whom he’s not really fond of as he knows he isn’t able to see his dad yet prefers him more than the new boyfriend.

Yoko Maki is excellent as Ryota’s ex-wife Kyoko as a woman trying to move on with a new boyfriend as she is also concerned about Shingo as well as ensuring he gets all of the things needed for a child. Kirin Kiki is brilliant as Ryota’s mother Yoshiko as a recently-widowed woman who is aware that she is going to die soon yet manages to find new hobbies and joy in her life as well as be concerned about Ryota’s own place in the world. Finally, there’s Hiroshi Abe in an amazing performance as Ryota Shinoda as a failed novelist turned private detective who copes with his own shortcomings and flaws as he tries to be a good father to his son as well as realize he’s still in love with his ex-wife where they all suddenly come together in this typhoon with his mother.

After the Storm is an incredible film from Hirokazu Koreeda. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, a simple yet effective approach to storytelling, and enchanting music. It’s a touching film that play into a man trying to do things right despite his own flaws as he also knows how much he cares for his family. In the end, After the Storm is a remarkable film from Hirokazu Koreeda.

Hirokazu Koreeda Films: (Lessons from a Calf) - (However) - (August Without Him) - (This World) - (Without Memory) - Maborosi - (After Life) - (Distance) - Nobody Knows - (Hana) - Still Walking - (Air Doll) - (I Wish) - (Life Father, Like Son) – Our Little Sister - (The Third Murder) – (Shoplifters)

© thevoid99 2018

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