See Real Japanese People in “After the Storm”
By Skip Sheffield
We Americans tend to think of Japanese people as orderly, conformist, polite and precise.
Japanese are fallible human beings after all. “After the Storm” captures the misadventures of one such imperfect man.
Shinoda Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is an underachiever and a screw-up. After an early book success, he still thinks he can make it as a novelist, but meanwhile he is working at a small detective agency and blowing most of his earnings on gambling. Hiroshi Abe is taller than the average Japanese man and quite good-looking. This is a two-edged sword, because he can get by on his charm but he falls short on the followup. It is interesting to note that writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda originally intended to be a novelist.
Inevitably Ryota has gotten behind in his child support payments and his ex-wife (lovely Yoko Maki) is at the end of her patience. Ryota can only be with his young son (Taiyo Yoshizawa) once a month. Despite a typhoon approaching (the storm of the title) Ryota insists on picking up his son and taking him to his elderly mother’s (Kirin Kiki) humble abode to ride out the storm.
At work Ryota’s boss (Lily Franky) is losing patience with his bright but irresponsible employee. Ryota gets an offer to write for a cheap comic magazine but he refuses, convinced he is destined for better things.
On the fateful night of the typhoon’s landing, Ryota’s ex-wife shows up at her ex mother-in-law’s place. Although she has moved on with another man, Ryota points out they will always be in each other’s life as parents to their son.
Playing at FAU’s Living Room Theaters, “After the Storm” offers a rare glimpse at how ordinary Japanese people live. They are not a whole lot different from you or me.