In Hirokazu Kore-eda’s newest film, “After the Storm,” a family split apart becomes, ever so briefly, fitted together again. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.
Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s enchanting movies are woven from the same gentle cloth: quiet, deceptively uncomplicated stories of families. We watch, leaning in to listen, waiting for something earthshaking to happen — and suddenly we realize that these characters have become a part of us. “Nobody Knows” was the heartbreaking tale of four young siblings abandoned by their mother; “Like Father, Like Son” brought us two couples devastated to learn that their children were switched at birth; “Our Little Sister” introduced a stepsibling into a family of grown sisters, letting us watch as she — and we — became part of a clan.
In his newest film, “After the Storm,” a family split apart becomes, ever so briefly, fitted together again. Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is a former novelist who’s now a private detective for a shady little office that mostly finds lost dogs. He’s divorced from ex-wife Kyoko (Yoko Maki) and doesn’t spend much time with their young son Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa), who’s touchingly anxious around the father he barely knows. “It’s not that easy growing up to be the man you want to be,” Ryota muses; his mother (Kirin Kiki), more blunt, tells him, “You’re taking too long to bloom.”
Movie Review ★★★½
‘After the Storm,’ with Hiroshi Abe, Yoko Maki, Taiyo Yoshizawa, Kirin Kiki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Lily Franky. Written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. 117 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In Japanese, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Uptown.
A summer typhoon finds them all, unexpectedly, holed up in Ryota’s mother’s small Tokyo apartment, waiting out the storm. What ensues is not an improbable miracle, but quiet revelations, fleeting poetry (a lottery ticket, we’re reminded, is “a piece of a dream”) and a father and son laughing in the rain, rewriting their story together.
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Like all of Kore-eda’s films, “After the Storm” ends with a jolt; not in the filmmaking, but in the way you realize that you were completely lost in the lives of these people and that, as the lights go up, you’ll miss them.