After The Storm is an absolutely brilliant film, as it deals with the trials and tribulations of a father & perceived loser in the face of challenging life circumstances. Hiroshi Abe plays the role of Shinoda Ryota, a detective that is financially broke, divorced and living in the illusion of his past glory as an award winning author. He struggles to make ends meet and often resorts to gambling, stealing and backhand deals that involves extortion in order to support himself and to pay child support for his only son, Shingo.
Another eye-catching performance to look put for is by Ryota's mom, Yoshiko, played by Kirin Kiki. She absolutely nails the role of a bewildered, lonely and regretful single grandmother, often dwelling on the unfortunate circumstances of the past and blaming her late husband for how her son turned out. She provides most of the comedic moments in the movie, as her tendency to be over-bearing and cheapskate at times, will make you giggle in the very least. She also seems obsessed and resigned to the idea that she will die alone, hence she keeps requesting her son & daughter to keep her company as much as possible. On top of that, she also harbors the faint hope that her son can be re-united with his ex-wife, and tries to set them up to sleep together during a night of storm.
Overall, the theme of After the Storm is dealing with the present circumstances in the face of unrealized dreams and broken hopes. This theme is strong in the characters of Ryota and Yoshiko. Additionally, Ryota's ex-wife, Kyoko (played by Yoko Maki) also plays an important role as she embodies the person whom manages to focus her life solely in the present times. Whilst Ryota still perceives himself as the father responsible for Shingo's journey through his current childhood phase, Kyoko has moved on and has accepted the fact that Ryota was never cut out to be a responsible father. She has even found a new boyfriend and except for the monthly visit, would rather Shingo not be spending time with his actual dad.
What really catches the eye about this movie, is that even in a fully developed country like Japan, with is high standards of living and apparent high-culture, there exists people like Ryota; someone who is left behind by the fast-moving economy and rebels against the norm of participating in the corporate rat-race to succeed career-wise. He can be pictured as someone who is very defensive whenever questioned on his life choices and habits. However, just like a starry-eyed young graduate, Ryota had dreams of his own for a stable government job, which somehow never came to be. However, the pride in him never dissolves, as the once Award-winning author still feels he deserves recognition for his past work.