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Jun 04

FT Top 100 Films 91: AFTER-LIFE

Do You SeePost a comment • 883 views

(This film is Japanese and therefore whether or not there is a hyphen, a space or it is all one word is variable. Its actual title is of course in Japanese.)

So your dead. What next? It may all depend on what you believe in, it may all be moot. What After-Life suggests is a theology free heaven of your own creation. You die, you end up in a halfway house that resembles an old school and some counselors tease your favourite memory out of you. A memory which, once filmed (and old school filming here) you will review for eternity.

After-Life is a film about memory, about looking over our lives and accepting it is over. It steers clear of a lot of the what ifs its own scenario throws up. What if you have no happy memories. What if you have no memories at all. But it does have a plot which deals with people who refuse to chose a memory. You end up working as a counselor (or clean up after them).

Hirokazu Kore-Eda the director plays this with a straight bat, often slipping into a snooping documentary style to cover the counseling session. There is a worklike efficiency in the memory selection, the sixteen year old girl is told to reconsider when she picks a memory of going to Disneyland. Is it because the counselor has heard it so many times, is it because she thinks it is just a snap memory without emotional consideration – or is it because it will be hard to stage? In the meantime there is a gentle storyline about one of the counselors who died forty years before and has been waiting for his true love to die to tell her something. It is not just a film about death, it is a film about any kind of loss.

After-Life appealed to me because as a non-religious meditation, but also as an exercise. It asks you to play the same game. But it also looks sumptuous, has a rather nice storyline and is clever. Not just for anyone who has lost someone, also for anyone who has ever lost something (even a dinosaur).

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