After Life

A beautiful meditation on the power and beauty of memories, this second feature from Hirokazu Kore-eda (MABOROSI) is more about a particular pause between life and eternity than about eternity itself. Several harried counselors report to work on a Monday at an oddly archaic institution. Their job: shepherding a group of the recently deceased through the...read more

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Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
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A beautiful meditation on the power and beauty of memories, this second feature from Hirokazu Kore-eda (MABOROSI) is more about a particular pause between life and eternity than about eternity itself. Several harried counselors report to work on a

Monday at an oddly archaic institution. Their job: shepherding a group of the recently deceased through the process of selecting a single memory to carry for eternity. At the end of the week, the guides turn filmmakers and recreate each memory in a film. The handsome, if grave, guide Mochizuki

(Arata) is assigned to Watanabe (Naito Taketoshi) a particularly boring salaryman filled with ambivalence about his life. The other dead folks represent a cross section of Japanese society (part of Kore-eda's preparation involved interviewing hundreds of diverse Japanese people): a teenage girl

who chooses a memory of Disneyland then changes her mind; an old woman with Alzheimer's disease who wanders the grounds picking up leaves and flowers; Iseya (Yuseke Iseya), a defiant punk who refuses to choose. We learn that those who cannot or will not choose a memory remain to become guides

themselves. AFTER LIFE is a chatty film, full of descriptions of the sensations and experiences in everyday life, and the large number of characters, their stories and interconnections make for a busier-looking film than MABOROSI. But Kore-eda, who uses his documentary experience to great effect

in the interviews with the dead, extracts the most poignant moments out of silence and solitude. The recreations of memories lovingly and reflexively point out that our recollections are often as malleable and dependent on suspension of disbelief as the special effects in a film.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A beautiful meditation on the power and beauty of memories, this second feature from Hirokazu Kore-eda (MABOROSI) is more about a particular pause between life and eternity than about eternity itself. Several harried counselors report to work on a Monday… (more)

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