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After Life(ワンダフルライフ)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Japan

1998

Rated R • 1h 58m

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda

Starring Arata Iura, Erika Oda, Susumu Terajima, Takashi Naitō

Genre Fantasy, Drama

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A group of newly deceased souls find themselves about to embark into the next phase of the afterlife. However, they are only allowed one memory in the afterlife, and must each select which memory from their very different lives they would like to take with them before moving on.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Nikita Chinamanthur Profile picture for Nikita Chinamanthur

I watched the remasted 2K version through Criterion. This is an unbelievably moving film and I feel as though I've found a wonderful new director to binge. Kore-eda has a lovely way of composing each frame simply yet evocatively. I loved all the performances and meandering bureaucratic ways of this "after-life" station.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

91

The A.V. Club by

The film, and the films within the film, are like a dream with a message about savoring existence: Learn to love in life, or risk leaving it without leaving an impression.
75

San Francisco Chronicle by Edward Guthmann

He never indulges in schmaltz or melodrama, as most American filmmakers do when approaching this theme -- think of "It's a Wonderful Life" or the awful "When Dreams May Come" -- but delivers a delicate meditation rich with emotion.
75

ReelViews by James Berardinelli

Even had it possessed a less intelligent script, After Life would have been intriguing on the basis of its central conceit alone. However, with Kore-eda's skillful hand behind both the camera and the pen, the result is a rewarding cinematic experience.
88

New York Post by Jonathan Foreman

At first, it seems stagy and slow and even to verge on the pretentious, but the film steadily accumulates dramatic power as its carefully sketched characters reveal their internal lives. By its end, After Life has developed into one of those haunting movies whose scenes can pop back into your consciousness hours or days after you have seen it. [12 May 1999, p.56]
80

Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Though it comes across as labored in spots, it also yields a good many beautiful and suggestive moments, and an overall film experience of striking originality.
83

Entertainment Weekly by Lisa Schwarzbaum

The simplicity and poignancy of the choices — riding a bus, swinging on a swing — and the great variety of interviewees result in a film of nonsticky freshness, as well as unforced profundity.
100

Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

Kore-eda, with this film and the 1997 masterpiece "Maborosi," has earned the right to be considered with Kurosawa, Bergman and other great humanists of the cinema. His films embrace the mystery of life, and encourage us to think about why we are here, and what makes us truly happy.
100

The New York Times by Stephen Holden

After Life becomes a quiet, extraordinarily moving and sometimes funny meditation on the meaning and value of life. It intimates that whatever happiness we may find in life comes from within and is self-created.

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