Before We Vanish (Sanpo suru shinryakusha) (2017)

KIYOSHI KUROSAWA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  Japan, 2017.  Django Film, Nikkatsu.  Screenplay by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Sachiko Tanaka, based on the play by Tomohiro Maekawa.  Cinematography by Akiko Ashizawa.  Music by Yûsuke Hayashi.  Film Editing by Kôichi Takahashi.  Cannes Film Festival 2017.  

Three aliens come to Earth and take over human bodies, sent here on a scouting mission to get to know the species they are planning to eventually annihilate.  Two of them recruit a reporter to be their guide, while a third takes over the life of a young man with Alzheimer’s disease whose wife believes his stories about being a stranger from another planet are symptoms of his illness.   As the other two tear up the streets causing no end of mayhem, the third gets an up close view of the species that, through his “wife’s” care for him, reveals to him an aspect of humanity that he eventually learns is something called love.  Meanwhile, the government has become aware of the intruders’ presence and is trying to find them by creating a fake epidemic scare.  Clever and cute as the story sounds, it contains very little insight or emphasis on interesting characters, which are usually essential elements of science-fiction films that don’t rely on digital effects or artificially created environments.  Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs without much conviction, it’s almost as if he doesn’t quite know what to make of the script, but he does coax terrific performances out of a solid cast that, while never justifying the film’s ridiculous running time, at least make it painless to experience.

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