Arriving at a kind of barren warehouse in limbo, a succession of recently departed people of varying ages and backgrounds — an elderly lady, a punky outcast, a WWII veteran, an adolescent girl, and others — are asked by the facility's counselors to choose one life memory to relive for eternity. Once the guests at the otherworldly way station have chosen their memory, the staff helps recreate it for them using a full arsenal of low-tech special effects, filmed for posterity.
Why we love it
A uniquely poignant meditation on life and death, Koreeda's "After Life" began as a documentary project in which the director interviewed 500 people about their favorite memories. Intercutting these with characters of his own devising adds a touch of wry humor to his compassionate story of everyday people struggling to isolate a golden moment from their worldly existence. The choices are surprising as well as profound: watching staffers fabricate one man's experience flying a plane with cotton-ball clouds and giant wind fans is as much a testament to the art of cinema as it is a comment on personal whimsy and sensory pleasure. With a deceptively simple premise, Koreeda fashions a deeply affecting homage to the sweet here-and-now.