After life

afterLife.jpgGood lord, if you want to see a movie that is not only achingly beautiful, but also thought-provoking, soulful, and almost balletic in its execution, get your butt off of the couch and rent After Life (called “Wandafuru raifu”, or “Wonderful Life” in its native Japan).

I haven’t seen a movie this good in a very long time. Wow.

The story follows one week in a “way station somewhere between Heaven and Earth”. The recently deceased are given three days to choose one memory from their life (and one memory only) to relive. They’re assisted in this evaluation of their life by caseworkers, who slowly help coax out the memory by asking questions, retrieving “video tapes” of the person’s life, etc. Once the memory has been chosen, it is recreated and filmed, and then the person moves on to “Heaven” to relive the memory forever.

The movie raises some very deep questions. How can a person summarize an entire lifetime in one memory? What would that memory be for you? What defines our happiness, and how does one reconcile a life of regret?

Because I’ve watched a ton of movies (from being a short-lived movie reviewer, and also because I worked as a movie rental clerk for quite a while), it’s quite hard for me to be emotionally moved by a film - especially the sledgehammer subtlety of movies out of the Hollywood system. One just gets used to sensing the buildup that comes with scenes that could inspire a teary response.

This movie moved me, and moved me deeply. Do yourself a huge favour and rent this one. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

Incredibly intimate, personal, and possibly impossible to answer, but if you had to choose one memory to relive for the rest of your life, could you?

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