After Life

If you’re interested in memoir, you might enjoy After Life, a Japanese film from about ten years ago.

The setup is that when you die, have three days to pick a memory that will then be turned into a film. This film then accompanies you into all eternity.

Much of the movie is shot as a documentary, so it’s a little slow in parts. There are counselors in this stage of life, who are tasked with helping the newly dead decide on a memory. There is no judgment hour in this hereafter. One of the new guys even makes a joke of it. “What, no hell? This is it?”

If there is no hour of judgment, the counselors do their best not to judge the dead people either, but this is where the film really shines. You can’t help but judge the people as they reveal themselves through their memories: one is a prostitute, another a lecherous old man (If you wait to pick your prostitute until 11 O’clock, you get a better bargain!), another a boring old man.

At least, I felt justified sizing up each of the newly dead, based on their memories. But as I watched the story unfold through the character’s memories, I realized not everyone is who they might seem. The memories are all true, but the context is everything.

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