After the death of his father, a private detective struggles to find child support money and reconnect with his son and ex-wife.After the death of his father, a private detective struggles to find child support money and reconnect with his son and ex-wife.After the death of his father, a private detective struggles to find child support money and reconnect with his son and ex-wife.
A gambling addict who squanders much of his earnings, Ryota's relationship with his young son Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa) is in jeopardy as his ex-wife Kyoko Shiraishi (Yoko Maki, "Like Father, Like Son") threatens to keep him from seeing Shingo until he catches up on his child support payments. The first time we see Ryota we are not impressed. He is going through his recently deceased father's private belongings to see if he can find anything that he could sell. It seems, however, that his father was also a gambler and Ryota's search might have been better conducted at the local pawn shop. While it is clear that he is not a role model for parenting, Ryota is man of considerable charm and Koreeda does not stand in judgment of his actions but depicts his travails with warmth and humor. We see that in spite of his dubious habits, his sister (Satomi Kobayashi) and his employer are both willing to lend him money.
With the help of his own mother, the spunky and very astute Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki, "Our Little Sister"), Ryota has his sights set on reuniting with Kyoko and Shingo. His love for his son is very real but he seems incapable of breaking from his demons, the same ones that dominated his father's life. Attempting to win back Shingo's love, he takes him out for a hamburger, buys him new shoes, and visits Yoshiko, the boy's beloved grandmother. Knowing that a typhoon is on the way, the family comes together to spend the night and to wrestle with the direction that their lives will take. "Why can't men ever love the present," Yoshiko wonders, highlighting an important message of the film, that people must accept the reality of how they really are.
While there is truth to the idea that we must accept who we are, there is a thin line between accepting your limitations and recognizing that you have the power to transform your life, to live the life you want rather than the life you are resigned to. Also, while the idea that sons will always take after their father is accepted without question, the reality in my experience is that sons will either take after their fathers or make very sure that they do not. After the Storm is one of Koreeda's best films and, as always, he elicits exceptional performances from children as well as brilliant takes by Kiki and Hiroshi Abe, but, in my view, its message is debatable.
- Oct 16, 2016