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After Life

Director/Writer:Hirokazu Kore-eda
Artistic License Films; 118 minutes; NR
Cast:Arata, Taketoshi Naito, Erika Oda, Susumu Terajima

If you can carry only one memory with you into eternity, which would it be? The question is as simple and stirring as the film that raises it. After Life begins in a shabby processing station: think of your local passport office with slightly more cheer. Slowly the film reveals that 22 folks sent through each week are the newly deceased. The staffers help them choose the one memory to have forever, in the form of a home video. Processing and filming lasts a week. Everything else will be erased.

Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda's background in documentary film imparts a naturalistic ease to this self-reflective premise. This is (after) life, after all, so there is no dominant character or plot, only a series of episodes that deal with memory and the passing deliciousness of life. Effective, modest filmmaking.

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