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Monster set to release in India; Shoplifters to After Life – A Hirokazu Kore-eda guide for the beginners and one in search of the meaning of life

Hirokazu Kore-eda is a filmmaker who is on a quest to find the meaning of existence and his cinema is very much a book of his findings. 

Monster set to release in India; Shoplifters to After Life – A Hirokazu Kore-eda guide for the beginners and one in search of the meaning of life
Hirokazu Kore-eda Films

Last Updated: 07.38 PM, Feb 06, 2024


While commercial cinema globally makes a loud noise and money, there is a section of filmmakers who are making movies for themselves. It is almost like they are having a conversation with themselves, and their cinema is much more personal than it is for the public. Those who resonate with their thoughts love their idea, while those who don’t find nothing in the process. Hirokazu Kore-eda is a filmmaker who has been busy finding the meaning of the one thing all of us are living: life. Over the years, through his films, the man has explored relationships, their foundation, what family means, and whether bonds are only through blood, and more.

He now comes to us with Monster. A movie that talks about bullying, bonds, social media, hate-mongering, relationships put to the test, and everything coming together to make a monster that is eating up the life of its protagonist who is the victim and also the subject. The movie will hit Indian theaters this week on February 9. So we thought, why not introduce many of us who are unaware of the filmmaker and his craft. There is immense range in how Hirokazu looks at life and the intricacies of it, and you will be left shocked and fascinated by the twists he has planted for you by the end of most of his movies.

So below is a guide for beginners (which is not really stuff for beginners) to the world of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s cinema. Watch the films and prepare yourself for Monster as it is about to hit the big screens in the country.

After Life (1998)


Available On: NA.

What are memories? How do they shape us and our surroundings? Which one would you choose if you had to walk with it to eternity? Like the name suggests, After Life is about a fictional world where souls first go post-death. A world where they are told to choose only one memory that they will take to eternity. Helping them is a group of officers who are given the job to be in charge of the process. Hirokazu explores the power of nostalgia and shows how our thoughts and memories shape the world around us. The complexities of After Life make it a thrilling experience even when it isn’t a thriller.

Still Walking (2008)

Available On: Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube (on rent).

Not many filmmakers can crack the formula of a nuanced family drama. In Still Walking, Hirokazu Kore-eda brought together a family on their eldest son’s 15th Memorial Day. When they sit together to commemorate the death of the son, the past is wide open and the wounds come back burning. The drama is so subtle and nuanced that it all feels so real. A family discussing the problems between them and the ego politics unfolding. The essence of ‘family’ is put to the test, and trust Kore-eda to make it worth it.

Air Doll (2009)

Air Doll Poster
Air Doll Poster

Available On: Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube (on rent).

In his quest to find the meaning of life in the modern world with accelerated problems, Hirokazu Kore-eda once made a movie based on a manga that had a sex doll come to life in the center of it. When she develops consciousness, she finds a way out of the apartment she is restrained in and starts interacting with the world. The loneliness, desire, and the meaning of connections in a world fast moving away from them is what the filmmaker wants to show. Air Doll is one of the most experimental movies in his filmography.

After The Storm (2016)

Available On: Apple TV (on rent).

What is the first thing a catastrophe teaches you? To trace your roots and go back to the ones you call home. In After The Storm, a man in the aftermath of a typhoon goes back to his family where he tries to reconcile with his wife and young son, who he left behind years ago to struggle as a writer and a detective. After The Storm is a nuanced movie that talks about regret and what it does to a man.

Like Father Like Son (2013)

Like Father Like Son
Like Father Like Son

Available On: Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube (on rent).

A recurring motif in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s filmography is the exploration of the bonds that are not bound by blood. Here is a movie where he brings it to the forefront for the first time. Two couples after their respective sons turn six realize that they were swapped at the time of birth. What do they do now? Does the love they nurtured their children with change overnight? What decides if they exchange the children now or continue with the uncalled-for setup? Do bonds break if not glued with blood? A movie that will make you question the very foundation of a parent-children relationship.

Our Little Sister (2015)

Available On: Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube (on rent).

When the three sisters get to know about the death of their estranged father, they rush to see him in the final moments and realize that they have a half-sister. The half-sister invites them to her home, and they start living together as a family. Acceptance is the central theme of the movie is, and Hirokazu Kore-eda explores it quite well. There is the bizarre nature of growing up, the pressure of acceptance, and much more to see here.

Shoplifters (2018)

Available On: Amazon Prime Video.

What defines a family? Kore-eda asks this one question and shakes the very core of everything we have learned about family. Here is a family of Shoplifters who are living a life of crime but also have the human intact in them. Shoplifters is so complex in its nature that the nuances will speak to a viewer who surrenders. The last 15 minutes are where Hirokazu turns our world upside down with his twist, and this has to be the most well-structured movie he ever made.

Monster hits the big screen in India on February 9, 2024. Stay tuned to OTTplay for more content like this and everything else from the world of streaming and films.