Rating and Review:
Directed by: Kore-Eda Hirokazu
Cast: Arata, Oda Erika and Naito Taketoshi
Before going to heaven dead people have to stay at a way station for a week. Everybody has to choose a memory which would be recreated on film by the workers there, and itd be their only memory after leaving. There are people who cannot, or simply do not want to make a choice. For these people, they have to stay and work as guides, until they can sort out a defining moment of their lives.
I am a big fan of Japanese films. Obviously Japanese are obsessed by beauty; and I always wonder the reason behind. After Life, as a Japanese Film, has some beautiful scenes. Yet, the film deals with death.
Unlike other films that talk about after life, there are neither angels nor fantastic settings. Obviously, the director wants to present after life as usual as daily life. The director shoots the first half in a documentary way. Dead people of different ages and gender, sitting in front of the camera, tell their stories one by one. Many of them simply say my lifes nothing significant and meaningful, may I not choose?. An old man says his most treasonable moment is making love with different woman. A young girl chooses Disney Land. Luckily almost all of them can find a sweet and warm moment right before the dead line.
While listening to different experiences, the audiences may start making their own choices. I still remember the feeling of helplessness when I was sitting inside the cinema. How can one dump all memories but one? Its too cruel. To be frank, I still dare not to even think about it now.
Mochizuki (Arata) has stayed at the way station for 50 years. He died in WWII at twenty-two years old. He cherishes his lover but he dares not to choose until she chooses him as her memory. Love reaches its highest level when you love someone and you know he loves you with the same depth at the same time. (Well, its only my point of view, very subjective) What surprises Mochizuki is that his partner Shiori (Oda Erika) has loved him for years. The relationship between them is griping.
The idea of filming the only one memory is funny. Thats right, I always believe my memory is somewhat different from the reality. We always recreate our memory on our own.
Instead of taking death seriously, the director films the story in a poetic way. It is really enjoyable to watch this film. Yet, I guess some people would suggest it is a bit boring. There are not many lines and no climax throughout two hours. For me, I am fully embraced by the mood. After Life is the best Japanese Film Ive ever watched and surely it is my favorite film.
© Fruit Chan 2001