The new Japanese feature film called AFTER THE STORM is getting rave reviews, but it may be too slow and uneventful for mainstream audiences.
What writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda gives us in AFTER THE STORM is more like a slice of ordinary life than a story.
So if you go to see this movie, don't expect high drama or a big climax.
The main characters are a divorced middle aged gambling addict, his ex-wife and young son, plus his elderly mother.
Not much happens, and the main idea seems to be that life is full of disappointments and all you can do is to accept what happens and make the best of it.
Shinoda: I'm the "great talents bloom late" type.
His mom: You're taking too long to bloom. Hurry up or I'll haunt you.
Shinoda: Stop it.
Shinoda is a disappointment to his mother and to himself. Over ten years ago, he published his first novel but he's written nothing since and he's become addicted to gambling, especially on bicycle races.
His mother hasn't totally given up on him, but she recognizes that he's a lot like her dead husband and not likely to change.
His ex-wife doesn't hate him but she knows not to expect much from him, either, not even the child support he owes her.
Ex Wife: If you're that interested in being a good father, why didn't you try harder before?
Colleague: Do you miss your son that badly?
Shinoda: Of course, I'm his father.
Colleague: You? A father!?
His young son still wants to spend time with Shinoda even though even he too is aware of his dad's shortcomings.
Shinoda works as a detective on domestic cases in which he blackmails the guilty partner and lies to his client in order to make extra money.
And yet for all his failings, Shinoda really does want to be better than he is. He just doesn't seem capable of more than the smallest changes.
The most compelling character in AFTER THE STORM is Shinoda's wise mother.
Mother: I wonder why it is that men can't love the present. They keep on chasing whatever it is they've lost. Or they keep dreaming beyond their reach.
Like the filmmaker, Shinoda's mother accepts human failure. She's made peace with life's imperfections and this restrained, subtle, all too human movie seems to suggest that we do the same.