Before We Vanish
Before We Vanish (散歩する侵略者, Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha, transl. "Strolling Invaders") is a 2017 Japanese science fiction film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It is based on a stage play by Tomohiro Maekawa's Ikiume Theatre Company and the novel adaptation written by Maekawa. It stars Masami Nagasawa, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mahiro Takasugi, Yuri Tsunematsu, and Hiroki Hasegawa.
|Before We Vanish|
|Directed by||Kiyoshi Kurosawa|
|Based on||Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha|
2005 stage play
by Tomohiro Maekawa and Ikiume Theatre Company
|Music by||Yusuke Hayashi|
|Edited by||Koichi Takahashi|
Before We Vanish earned two nominations at the 41st Japanese Academy Film Prize. The film had its world premiere in competition at the Un Certain Regard section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May 2017. The film also received an award at the Sitges Film Festival – Official Selection.
An alien in the form of a schoolgirl named Akira (Yuri Tsunematsu) apparently kills her family, then walks carelessly down the middle of a street, causing an evading semi to overturn. A second alien has taken over the body of a man, Shinji (Ryuhei Matsuda), whose wife Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) is flustered by the profound changes to his personality. He asks her to guide him.
A third alien has taken over the body of a teenage boy, Amano (Mahiro Takasugi). He connects with a freelance journalist, Sakurai (Hiroki Hasegawa), who becomes his guide. Amano admits to Sakurai that he is an alien, and Sakurai eventually believes and assists him. The aliens do not threaten their guides. Amano and Sakurai ultimately track down Akira. The three travel together, although Sakurai is disturbed by Akira's violence.
The aliens are advanced scouts for a mass invasion of Earth. To learn how human live or think, they steal themes or philosophical concepts from humans, who then can no longer understand them. Thus, alien Amano takes "freedom" from human Amano's parents and they become servile. Shinji takes "family" from Narumi's sister, who leaves while telling Narumi to back off. He later takes "possession" from a young shut-in, who proceeds to go out in the world as an advocate against materialism. Alien Shinji becomes, in many respects, a better husband to Narumi. "Shinji is broken," he says to Narumi, "I'll rebuild him."
Government authorities are working to locate Akira, who they view as being at the center of a release of a dangerous virus. A state of emergency is declared, with the SDF becoming involved. Meanwhile, Amano and Akira must meet with Shinji to trigger the start of the invasion. Sakurai initially works to prevent this, but after the human forms of the two young aliens are killed, he tries to initiate the invasion himself.
Narumi invites Shinji to take "love" from her, and he does. He is overwhelmed by the feeling; he is surprised by how complicated "love" is. Meanwhile, Narumi no longer can feel emotion. The invasion is called off. Sakurai is dead after the attack from war plane. At the same time, Narumi and Shinji arrive at the hill where they can see the ocean. Suddenly, Aliens start invading to the earth, and attack Narumi and Shinji, but they survive.
Two months later, Aliens stop invading the Earth, and many humans survived. However, many people lost the concept of who they are and have lasting physical and mental damage that has no clear way to cure.
Shinji was found to be working for the relief effort at the film's end while Narumi was hospitalized because she had lost the concept of love and all related emotions. Shinji said that the invasion stopped because the aliens learned from the humans. The relief doctor noted that at the time of the invasion humans faced many serious problems of their own making that no longer as a positive result of the Alien invasion.
- Masami Nagasawa as Narumi Kase – Protagonist who is confused with dramatic change in her husband. However, she tries to welcome him as a member of family.
- Ryuhei Matsuda as Shinji Kase –Narumi's husband who has his body taken over by alien.
- Hiroki Hasegawa as Sakurai –Journalist who is looking answers about one family's murder.
- Mahiro Takasugi as Amano –A boy Sakurai contacts as he researches the case. Mysterious character.
- Yuri Tsunematsu as Akira Tachibana –High school student who has surprising athleticism. Violent alien.
- Atsuko Maeda as Asumi Kase
- Shinnosuke Mitsushima as Maruo
- Kazuya Kojima as Detective Kurumada
- Ken Mitsuishi as Suzuki
- Masahiro Higashide as a pastor
- Kyōko Koizumi as a doctor
- Takashi Sasano as Shinagawa
In Tochigi Prefecture, they used an abandoned factory as the survival game field appearing at the end of film. Additionally, in the end of August 2016, they used Kirin Beer factory as the wasteland.
The home were Narumi and Shinji lived was shot on location. Famous production designer, Ataka Norifumi, said that he put many diagonal lines or shapes on the inside of the house on purpose so that it could imply the awkwardness between Narumi and Shinji. Also, he mentioned that he took away warmer tone colors so that audience can see the low energy of the couple.
In Japan, the film made $448,829 in its opening weekend.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 79%, based on 48 reviews, and an average rating of 6.48/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Before We Vanish finds Kiyoshi Kurosawa working within well-established genre guidelines to take a poignant, surprisingly sincere look at the human condition." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score 64 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Perpetually shifting gear between playful sci-fi pastiche, quirky rom-com and apocalyptic thriller, Before We Vanish might have worked better as a single dedicated genre, but it becomes a little scrambled trying to cover several at once." Hollywood Reporter gave a harsh critique on this film. He also pointed out its running time. He said it could have been shorter based on the plot events of the film. Its long duration created by director Kurosawa just led the audience to be impatient, and lost the suspense. Inconsistent elements can be seen in the film, he wrote; lack of explanation about Sakurai’s motivation for offering his body to the alien, or Narumi’s motivation for taking care of her situation with her husband rather than saving the Earth. Lastly, he mentioned that last action sequences are too late to show though their visuals were spectacular. After all, they sum up the review with this sentence “With the tonally incontinent Kurosawa at the helm, it is hard to tell which.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Lee of Variety said, "Playing frequently like an absurdist political satire with only flashes of violence, this low-tension, drawn-out work won't gratify the chills or adrenaline rushes fanboys crave, but the ending strikes a romantic chord so pure that all but the most jaded cynics will be moved."
Simon Abrams wrote a review on Roger Ebert.com. He started off saying that 130 minutes running time is too long considering the amount of character development and plots of Alien invasion drama. He also mentioned that there is not much reasoning for the character's behavior. For example, towards the end of the film, human guides start building deeper connections with invaders, but sometimes clear reasons are not shown in the film. However, he acclaimed Kurosawa’s direction for actors He pointed out that some people do not like the emotional flow happening in the movie, unnatural dialogue, lack of character development. After all, he recommends this film because of its unique concept that aliens try to steal concepts from humans. RogerEbert.com gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, commenting that "its naive hopefulness is infectious, and its big ideas are captivating."
Based on the review done by Film Inquiry, Before We Vanish gave a good impression. They gave high acclaims for the way Kurosawa directed the science fiction film. Specifics mentioned were the uniqueness of the young girl covered by blood, and violent visual images that referred to 1950s Science Fiction.They said “This extraterrestrial attempt at understanding human emotion through a series of concepts is a clever idea.” The plot of the film went over the expectations that viewers have towards standard science fiction films featuring aliens. However they pointed out that some critics thought the film duration could have been cut shorter, though it is 130 minutes long; they thought some plot points were “needlessly drawn out”.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Japan Academy Film Prize||2 March 2018||Director of the Year||Kiyoshi Kurosawa||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role||Masami Nagasawa||Nominated|
|Tokyo Sports Film Award||25 February 2018||Best Actress||Masami Nagasawa||Won|
|Mainichi Film Awards||15 February 2018||Best Actress||Masami Nagasawa||Won|
|Best New Actor||Mahiro Takasugi||Won|
|Cannes Film Festival||2017||Prize of Un Certain Regard||Kiyoshi Kurosawa||Nominated|||
|Directing Prize of Un Certain Regard|
|Jury Prize - Un Certain Regard|
|Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress||Masami Nagasawa|
|Prize for the Best Poetic Narrative - Un Certain Regard||Kiyoshi Kurosawa|
- "Japan Academy Film Prize". Japan Academy Film Prize. 2020.
- "The 2017 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. 13 April 2017. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- Winfrey, Graham (13 April 2017). "2017 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, 'Twin Peaks' and More". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
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- Abrams, Simon (2 February 2018). "Before We Vanish". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
- Martin, Josh (8 February 2019). "BEFORE WE VANISH: Alien Invasion With A Twist". Film Inquiry. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
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