I was a little tired watching this pleasing Japanese drama. I think if it had been an 11am session and had a coffee in hand I would have engaged with it a lot more. As it was, it reminded me a little of a few others I have seen so far – What’s in the Darkness, The Demons, Harmonium – quiet, observational studies of family life where not a lot happens but we get to understand a little about cultural expectations of parenting, what has led the main characters to the situation they are now in.
In After the Storm, it is Ryota who is at the core of the film. He is a published author but struggles to make a success of anything, as a private detective, an author or as a husband and father. His wife has left him and he sees his son only when he can come up with child support money. His addiction to gambling means this doesn’t always happen and his perennial optimism that the next deal or bet will solve his problems means he will take advantage of anyone to meet his own needs.
This sounds like a heavy topic but it is treated with a deft and light hand. Ryota’s mother is a stand out, adding humour without cuteness, and Ryota himself is like a child who can’t quite work out why his life hasn’t turned out the way he planned. The title refers to a typhoon that is imminent but also resonates with Ryota’s ability to change his direction in life.
Bechdel test – pass