Before After the Storm, I had watched only one film directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu , which was Our Little Sister. Since then, he has become one of my favourite directors. Hirokazu has the ability to detect the essence of beauty in the slightest life details, and reveals it in a subtle and delicate way.
Like Our Little Sister, there is a strong family dynamic in After the Storm, but a more shattered one. Ryota, a private detective who used to be a novelist, is living in different broken relationships with his family members, including his ex-wife, his mother and his sister. Because of his gambling hobby inherited from his father, he is always short of money but never stops gambling. The only relationship that Ryota doesn’t mess up is with his son, Shingo.
The first half of the film vividly depicts a loser’s life from Ryota’s work, family and social relations. Clearly, he is nobody’s role model. But then the typhoon comes, which forces all the main characters to stay at grandma Yoshiko’s home. Luckily, Ryota gets this special chance to spend a night with his ex-wife, his son and his mother together. This is the turning point where everyone imperceptibly discloses their most honest selves through plain yet truthful small conversation. “You can’t find happiness until you’ve let go of something,” Yoshiko says to Ryota on the night of the typhoon. Some people keep chasing whatever it is they’ve lost or keep dreaming what is beyond their reach. To Ryota, these are his muses in writing and his marriage that is already over. How can we enjoy real life if we don’t focus on the present? In the end, when the typhoon finally passes, the world still seems the same, like always. Despite of this family night, it doesn’t change the fact that each of them needs to move on, in their own way.
We are so insignificant in the universe: As human beings, we all face various mundane difficulties, trying hard to avoid struggling and suffering. Hirokazu perfectly knows this truth, yet chooses to guide his viewers’ eyes to the tenderness and warmth hidden in those trivial matters of our daily lives.
“But you know, it doesn’t matter whether I’ve become what I wanted. What matters is to live your life trying to become what you want to be.” Maybe Ryota is right.