After the Storm

The film's tone is tempered and graceful, just shy of being a full-blown melodrama.

Japanese family dramas have a risk of being labeled as variations on the oeuvre of acclaimed director Ozu but this comparison would be true and apt for director Hirokazu Koreeda. His previous film was the tender, bittersweet Still Walking, about a family who gathered every year to mourn the loss of their talented son who died saving a drowning man, who also accompanies them on these rituals. His latest film is equally elegant – about a once acclaimed writer who works part time as a detective but still yearns for his ex-wife and finds it hard to move on.

The film’s backdrop, and from where it gets its title, is the storm that is about to hit the city. It is the 24th such storm this year and there is nothing uniquely remarkable about this except that it brings together the writer, his ex-wife, their young son and the writer’s caring mother for one evening. The film treats this situation and each of its characters with humility even when the writer is shown to be a bit of a klutz – tall, amiable but (in the eyes of most) rather unexceptional person.

The film’s tone is tempered and graceful, though it does sometimes veer into becoming too droll and dry. It stops just shy of being either a full-blown melodrama or too scathing, like some of those other films about family gathering during dinner tables where big secrets from the past are revealed or rise to the surface through conversations. The conversations here – between mother and son, husband and wife, father and child – are realistically depicted. The words convey both a sense of unresolved disputes from the past and hopeful longings for the future. The story takes its time – sucks you in with the settings and the people and then lets it all flow naturally to a realistic, honest, heartwarming end.

Rating: ★★★½☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and