BEFORE WE VANISH
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, 2017 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 New York Film Festival
A storm is leisurely making its way over the city. Below, the threads holding together a young married couple are casually unfurling, when one day the husband comes home blank-faced, as if a new person. So dulled is their marriage that his insouciance – and the discovery that he has in fact been possessed by an alien invader – feels more like a fever dream than a cause for alarm. That is, until the attack begins.
He’s not the only one whose body’s been snatched. In cold, clinical fashion, Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Creepy, SDAFF ’16) reveals that at least two other aliens are walking as people, wreaking havoc but also embedding into the human world to understand some of its more complex concepts. There is violence befitting sci-fi, but as in so much of Kurosawa’s work, genre is a shell in which humans play out Manichean breakdowns of self-control. The result is funereal and unsettling, an out-of-body meditation on how people choose to connect at the haunted frontiers of life itself, as in Kurosawa’s Journey to the Shore. And as with that previous film, BEFORE WE VANISH is ultimately deeply romantic, probing our spiritual stasis and finding at our core the potential for transcendence. –Brian Hu