Kiyoshi Kurosawa has brought a uniquely unsettling vibe to genre fair like Cure and Pulse; here, an alien invasion story gets tangled up in too many competing thematic ideas. Three beings have come to earth as an advance scout team, taking on human form and using guides to gather information on human concepts; two of them (Yuri Tsunematsu and Mahiro Takasugi) wind up with journalist Sakurai (Hiroki Hasegawa), while the other (Ryûhei Matsuda) sticks with his host body Shinji’s wife, Narumi (Masami Nagasawa). It’s a neat idea that the aliens just go around telling everyone that they’re aliens, so confident in their inevitable victory that they see no need for subterfuge, and Kurosawa plays intriguingly with the liberation humans feel when freed from certain ideas by the aliens taking away their sense of work, private property, etc. But while the narrative seems built around Narumi adjusting to a Shinji who actually seems to be an improvement on the man who was having an affair, Before We Vanish keeps getting sidetracked by the other group of aliens—in bits often played more for dark comedy—and government attempts to deal with a threat when it’s never clear why they know what it is and where it’s coming from. The denouement is both opaque and almost too obvious; it’s clear Kurosawa believes one concept can save humanity, but too many concepts thwart his movie.
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Producer: Yoshio Nakayama and Yôsuke Miyake
Cast: Masami Nagasawa, Ryuhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa, Mahiro Takasugi, Yuri Tsunematsu, Kyôko Koizumi, Kazuya Kojima, Atsuko Maeda, Ken Mitsuishi and Takashi Sasano