The past filters into the present, indeed even becomes it, in Koreeda Hirokazu's After the Storm, sifting through how we come to define ourselves in direct relation to our heritage and our expectations. Koreeda organically constructs one of those second-half awkward shut-in devices, designed to purge that which its characters insist on concealing and thus reconfiguring their outlook upon life; his technique is typically subtle, intelligent and legitimate in the corresponding construction of both theme and character. His staple elements are all present and correct, and put to particularly productive use in this personal, original story: food and drink defining or complimenting the mood, or reflecting it; expressive, economical framing in static shots that permit the on-screen action the ability to create its own shape and movement; gentle, telling friction in cultural and generational divisions. The more laidback, meandering, non-contrived Koreeda's narrative, the more these details acquire their intended strength, here rooted in the diegesis of After the Storm. With respectful commentary on different perspectives in class, age and gender, Koreeda forms one of his finest analyses yet of the contemporary Japanese conundrum of how it integrates its past into its present, ever struggling admirably, though with little evident strain, to conceive fitting solutions. Per each person in its main ensemble, Koreeda shapes this analysis around who we wanted to be, expected to be, wish we were and might someday actually become, and also what we take from and give to those closest to ourselves, intentionally or otherwise. With generous humour, and great skill in creating a sense of plot through simple character development, After the Storm is one of the most successful distillations of this great filmmaker's artistic and societal concerns to date.