After Life

After Life is the new film from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. It is a surprisingly quiet, introspective film that is a lot more complex than it initially seems. The premise of the film is surprisingly simple. When you die, you have one week to choose a memory. The memory is put on film for you, and is the only thing you can take with you when you move on.

As the movie begins, a new group of people appear in what seems to be a hospital. The counselors at the hospital tell them the situation, and are there to help guide them through the selection process. Each person has three days to choose the memory, and then the rest of the week deals with filming the memory. Before production began, director Hirokazu Kore-eda interviewed many people and asked what they would do in a similar situation. Some of the people actually appear in the move, relating their experiences. The movie consists of watching people recount their experiences to the screen. It may sound semi-interesting, but it is extremely fascinating.

Each person has a different criteria for choosing their memory. Some choose the happiest moment of their life, others choose something much simpler. One 21 year old refuses to choose. The memories chosen, and the stories surrounding them are funny, some poignant. Each one draws you in completely. Each person is full of life and completely believeable. You sometimes feel as if you are having a conversation with these people.

Unlike Run Lola Run, where the soundtrack was loud, catchy, and nonstop, After Life is noticeable for its almost complete lack of music. The few times that there is music, its presence is all the more powerful. The slow, deliberate pace of the story and the long, lingering shots of the snow help to heighten this effect.

This movie also has nothing to do with religion. The concept behind it was to have people examine what they find important and memorable. The after life of this film just serves (and does a great job) as a device to have people tell their story. As a viewer, you almost have to sit down and wonder, if you could only remember one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Mongoose rates it: Pretty Good
1 hour, 58 minutes, Not Rated, but nothing to offend anyone.