In this wistful, understatedly moving fable, Kore-eda imagines an afterlife in which the dead must choose a single memory to retain for eternity. The film centers on the day-by-day work lives of two civil servants tasked with interviewing the newly dead about their happiest recollections, then recreating those moments on film. Here, death is presented as a benevolent institution of quiet banality, and paradise as an act of cinematic preservation, rooted in the very human impulse to look back on one’s existence as a story to be told. Kore-eda’s film is a masterful meditation on lost love, bygone happiness, and what it means to live a good life.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters opens on November 23. Get tickets here.