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After Life (1998)
"Wandâfuru raifu" (original title)

 -  Drama | Fantasy  -  17 April 1999 (Japan)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 6,211 users  
Reviews: 101 user | 79 critic

After death, people have just one week to choose only a memory to keep for eternity.

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Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Arata Iura ...
Takashi Mochizuki, counsellor (as Arata)
Erika Oda ...
Shiori Satonaka, trainee counsellor
Susumu Terajima ...
Satoru Kawashima, counsellor
Takashi Naitô ...
Takuro Sugie, counsellor
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Kyoko Watanabe, Ichiro's Wife
Kei Tani ...
Kennosuke Nakamura, boss
Taketoshi Naitô ...
Ichiro Watanabe, who cannot choose his favourite experience
Tôru Yuri ...
Gisuke Shoda, who talks about sex
Yûsuke Iseya ...
Yusuke Iseya, who refuses to choose his experience
Sayaka Yoshino ...
Kana Yoshino, talks about Disneyland
Kazuko Shirakawa ...
Nobuko Amano, who talks about her affair with a married man
Kôtarô Shiga ...
Kenji Yamamoto, who wants to forget his past
Hisako Hara ...
Kiyo Nishimura, old lady who loves cherry blossoms
Sadao Abe ...
Ichiro (as young man)
Natsuo Ishidô ...
Kyoko Watanabe as a young woman
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Storyline

After people die, they spend a week with counselors, also dead, who help them pick one memory, the only memory they can take to eternity. They describe the memory to the staff who work with a crew to film it and screen it at week's end; eternity follows. 22 dead arrive that week, assigned to three counselors and a trainee. One old man cannot find a memory, so he watches videotape of his life. Others pick their memory quickly, and the film crew gets right to work. The trainee, 18-year-old Shiori, helps a teenage girl choose a memory other than Disneyland. The youthful staff have a secret and feelings, too, which play out, especially Shiori's affection for her mentor, Mochizuki Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What is the one memory you would take with you?

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 April 1999 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

After Life  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$11,791 (USA) (14 May 1999)

Gross:

$801,985 (USA) (24 March 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was released on DVD in France in 2010, 11 years after its 1999 theatrical release in the country. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Waking Life (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wandafuru movie!
10 January 2000 | by (Munich, Germany) – See all my reviews

I really loved Kore-eda's first feature "Maboroshi No Hikari", so I had been looking forward very much to seeing "Afterlife" (named "Wandafuru raifu" in Japanese, after Frank Capra's movie "It's a wonderful Life") during its run in London.

At first I noticed that the film is formally very different from its predecessor; while "Maboroshi No Hikari" owes much to the influence of Ozu, and especially Hou Hsiao-hsien, "Afterlife" draws more on the directors background as a documentary filmmaker. What the two films share, however, is the theme of memory (Note: also a theme with Hirokazu Kore-eda's documentary work - check out "Without Memory", about a man suffering of severe amnesia). In "Maboroshi No Hikari" Yumiko is not able to forget the memory of her dead husband, whereas in "Afterlife" the recently deceased must chose one memory that will accompany them into eternity.

I feel that Kore-eda handles this entirely hypothetical premise in the best possible way, by steering completely clear of the stylistic superficialities with which so many other films about life after death desperately try to make themselves believable. The unspectacular old school building as a setting, the ceiling window with its interchangeable templates for the different stages of the moon, a character who himself has doubts as to whether this is really the best way of going to the next world and the absence of any religious connotations, among other things, all serve to keep the focus on the characters and their memories - many of whom are actually real. Apart from tongue in cheek humour, the lack of music also prevents over-sentimentalization and makes the memories the people recall the more sincere. The no-budget filming of the recollections of the deceased in order to trigger their personal memory, toward the end of the movie, also illustrates that the director is fully aware of his own limitations and possibilities as a film-maker. Rather than just trying to create the illusion of some half-baked version of the hereafter, he wants to challenge the viewer to reflect on what would be his/her most important memory - and succeeds in every way.

This is a movie that surly can be appreciated by anyone who possesses at least a tiniest inkling of openness and willingness to experience cinema as more than mere entertainment. Top mark for this one!


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