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After Life is set at a way station between Heaven and Earth. There, guides have less than a week to help the newly dead sift through their memories for one defining moment to take with them to Heaven.
As the film discovers, finding a life's worth of meaning in a single event is no simple task. Interactions between the soul-searching dead and their dedicated guides explore the range of human experience. The film centers on the grudging respect that develops between Watanabe, an undistinguished old man, coming to terms with his uneventful life, and Mochizuki, the young guide assigned to help him.
After Life draws on the recollections of hundreds of elderly Japanese, some of whom join the cast of the film. Their stories reveal not only their personal pleasures and horrors, but also the broader history of postwar Japan. By portraying characters struggling to come to terms with the past, the film explores our attachment to life - bursting with pride and falsehood, pain, and pleasure - and, most importantly, to love.