Film Review: Japanese Film Review

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¶ … Life (1998)

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda's 1998 film After Life, (or Wandafuru Raifu for "Wonderful Life" in Japanese), explores the transition between life on earth and the afterlife in a way that allows him to do so without ever actually defining the nature of the afterlife at all. The film focuses on a transitory facility where newly departed individuals arrive after their deaths on their way to wherever they are destined for eternity after life. The main purpose of this layover is for them to consider their lives and to select what they consider to be their single most important memory from their lives that they wish to take with them to the afterlife. During their stay, the temporary residents receive assistance from the staff in selecting their favorite memory which is then reproduced in a film version for them. Once residents have the opportunity to view their favorite memory in this format, they instantly vanish, presumably into the afterlife, although the film provides no further indication of their fate in that regard.

Plot Summary

The film opens without any hint that the characters are actually deceased. Instead, the opening scene seems like an ordinary workday in some sort of administrative office environment. A manager briefs his staff about how many incoming clients to expect and the scene shifts to an intake procedure during which the staff of the facility process the new clients and caseworkers are assigned to assist individual clients. The audience only discovers incidentally that all of the characters are actually deceased through an "interview" of some of the characters by other characters cast as part of the film crew as though the film were a documentary.

The two most significant plot elements seem to be (1) the different responses of various individuals to the realization that they are dead and that they have been tasked with the responsibility of identifying a single most… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Film Review:

APA Format

Japanese Film Review.  (2011, June 2).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Japanese Film Review."  2 June 2011.  Web.  7 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Japanese Film Review."  June 2, 2011.  Accessed December 7, 2019.