See Before We Vanish Before it Vanishes from Theaters

Barbara Kennedy February 10, 2018 0

Shinji Kase (Ryžuhei Matsuda), Narumi Kase (Masami Nagasawa) and Sakurai (Hiroki Hasegawa) in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s BEFORE WE VANISH, courtesy of Super LTD.

BEFORE WE VANISH is far more philosophical than one might expect from a movie about an alien invasion. Exploring the concepts that human beings have about themselves and their worlds, Kiyoshi Kurosawa‘s film explores the value in humanity.  The film stars Ryuhei Matsuda, Masami Nagasawa, and Hiroki Hasegawa.

Three aliens take possession of unsuspecting humans to gather intel for an impending full-scale invasion. Humans have too many words for things, so in order to understand our race, they steal concepts from us. Our views of work, ownership, family, etc. are taken through a weird kind of mental transfer. Once taken, the human loses his or her sense of that concept, and reacts accordingly. Sometimes these reactions prove amusing, but at other times, they can be heart-wrenching. To assist us in achieving the appropriate emotional response, composer Yusuke Hayashi‘s score eloquently directs us.  Akiko Ashizawa‘s choreography treats us to lots of eye candy, especially during the action sequences.

Kurosawa and Sachiko Tanaka adapted the screenplay from Tomohiro Maekawa‘s play of the same title. The character-focused, philosophical story creates some moments of subtle horror and at times some hilarious scenes. The children especially prove effective in being both creepy and alien. I love a good creepy kid, and while I’ve yet to see a creepier kid than in Takashi Shimizu‘s JU-ON, something about the smiling boy in BEFORE WE VANISH unsettled me.

While I suspect many people will feel that BEFORE WE VANISH could benefit from some serious editing, the frequently sluggish pacing allowed an opportunity to really contemplate the deeper meaning in the story and how our own values and concepts inform our views of the world. Perhaps that was the intent, or perhaps that was the result of adapting a cinematic story from a stage play. Either way, I appreciated the opportunity to mull over some ideas during the film. But, yeah, I would’ve liked a a few more edits in places.

Although it has some gorgeous action sequences, BEFORE WE VANISH is not exactly a riveting, action-packed, laser-firing invasion film. But honestly, there are plenty of those to satisfy sci-fi and action fans. Instead it depicts invasion in a far more invasive and thought-provoking way. Although it may not be the most exciting film to watch, it is beautifully eerie with moments that strike pretty powerful chords. In addition, it presents underlying notes that would be appreciated by those who really delve into the content. People with short attention spans will likely struggle with this film, but those who like to contemplate and discuss cinema or philosophy should really appreciate all that this unique film has to offer.

If you want a thought-provoking, beautiful film, it’s now playing in theaters in select cities. Check out this link to see if it’s available where you are.