Created by Hirokazu Kore-eda
“I expected a better ending”
In the 2017 Japanese film Umi yori mo mada fukaku (After the Storm), acclaimed novelist SHINODA RYOTO‘s life is going nowhere. His long-suffering wife Kyoko has left him, he and his eleven year-old son Shingo are drifting apart, his mother is aging, and the words just aren’t flowing like they used to–his last literary triumph was a long time ago. To pay off his mounting gambling debts and long-overdue child support, he starts working part-time as a private detective, while purportedly working on his next novel, but his heart’s not into either task–he’s more concerned with his attractive ex, and whether she has a new lover, even roping in Shingo, who misses his dad, to spy on his mother.
Anyone looking for a breezy comedy or a dark, guns-a-blazing action flick will have to keep looking–and the fact that Ryoto’s a detective is almost beside the point. This is a quiet, contemplative bittersweet character study, drenched in melancholy, of a middle-aged man trying in a half-assed way to come to terms with his failures, which are numerous.
Still, it’s difficult not to like Ryoto. He may be a conniving deadbeat dad, but there’s a certain goofy charm about the guy, and you end up wanting him to pull himself up–or occasionally, smack him across the face. Ever the mope, he’s smart enough to acknowledge his own failures and to realize the source of many of his problems (his own late father was also a gambling addict), but he’s seemingly powerless to preventing history from repeating itself. A storm, both metaphorical and meteorological, is gathering.
As Tim Grierson of Paste puts it, “… there’s no scorn in Kore-eda’s depiction of Ryota’s transformation, the director’s patience towards Ryota is both touching and despairing. After the Storm shows this man more kindness than perhaps he deserves, but the film has no illusions: Only Ryota can pull himself out of his own hole. But that’s the thing about having faith in people—it makes it that much easier for them to keep breaking your heart.”
So… not exactly a feel-good night at the movies.
- “I wonder why it is that men can’t love the present,” his mom observes. “Either they just keep chasing whatever it is they’ve lost or they keep dreaming beyond their reach.”
— Ryoto’s mom
- “I’m not… who I want to be yet. But, you know, it doesnt matter whether I’ve become what I wanted. What matters is to live my life trying to become what I want to be.”
- UMI YORI MO MADA FUKAKU | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray | Watch it now!
(aka “After the Storm)
Written by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring Hiroshi Abe as RYOTO
Also starring Yoko Maki, Taiyo Yoshizawa, Yuri Nakamura, Kazuya Takahashi, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Taiyô Yoshizawa, Rie Minemura, Izumi Matsuoka
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.