Still Walking is a family drama about grown children visiting their elderly parents, which unfolds over one summer day. The aging parents have lived in the family home for decades. Their ... See full summary »
A young woman's husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant. Yumiko remarries and moves from Osaka to a small fishing village, yet ... See full summary »
China in the 1920's. After her father's death, nineteen year old Songlian is forced to marry Chen Zuoqian, the lord of a powerful family. Fifty year old Chen has already three wives, each ... See full summary »
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
Afterlife is another film offering an answer to the unanswerable question "What happens after you die? ". Although this has been asked many times through cinema in the past, few films have answered as elegantly as Afterlife.
Directly after dying the departed are received by a group of counsellors who assist them in finding what was, for them, the most beautiful and perfect, single experience of their lives. For some the choice is easy and they are instantly able to provide the moment, which, once recreated by technicians, they remain in forever but the majority of the film concentrates upon those who are unable to find their perfect moment, and need extra help to recall past loves and lost days of their youth. The institution has the perfect means to assist this choice, with the complete life of everyone on grainy home-video, perhaps a comment on the tehcnology and recording-obsessed Japanese.
Many of the scenes are visually exceptional, especially those in the snow and everything seems very real, and, ironically, down-to-earth, especially the school building being used throughout the film giving an institutional feeling, but the interaction between the staff is where the film holds its true strength. Especially interesting is the relationship between Shiori, a newly employed worker, and Mochizuki, her mentor, which develops throughout. The film is slow to start due to the documentary style often used, but proceeds in an enveloping manner holding your attention to the end. Along with "Heaven can wait" and "Beetlejuice" this film offers another novel look at life, death and the hereafter.
The Japanese title was "Wandafuru raifu" (wonderful life, after Frank Capra) and, even though the film is dealing with death, it is a statement of how wonderful life is.
I loved this film and it stuck me stunningly and reminded me of how good films can be when they try.
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