Before We Vanish (2018) – The Concept of Human Complexity

When I watched Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival”, something delighted on me. Unlike the extraterrestrial films in general or you could just say, aliens. The movie brings you down how to understand such creatures. It’s not about exploiting aliens to humans who want to destroy the world. However, the theme covered with the use of the other side of a coin. So from that, I’m just quite excited when I watch this Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Before We Vanish”. Similar to “Arrival”, this movie gives a different touch in such tropes. Movies about alien invasions turn into a complex exploration of relationships.

The movie about three aliens disguised into the human body prepares to understand humans. Before starting the invasion of Earth, they tried to understand the system of complexity found in humans. People suspecting that a virus has attacked their brain because of their changing personality. And, these aliens don’t actually inject any virus. However, they take a picture of the human mind. Such as ‘family’, ‘ownership’, ‘work’, and ‘love’. The peasants taken by the images became ‘idiot’.

The aliens entered the bodies of Shinji Kase (Ryuhei Matsuda), Akira Tachibana (Yuri Tsunematsu), and Amano (Mahiro Takasugi). Besides we never know how they are, they descend to Earth separately. Shinji lives with his wife, Narumi (Masami Nagasawa). There is Sakurai (Hiroki Hasegawa), a cynical reporter who is also curious about their complexity. These aliens are looking for a concept that exists in humans. They work by absorbing the mentality of human ideas to incorporate into their brains. The victim then forgot the abstract theory that had taken.

Actually, this film plays quite hard yet structured in a satire way. It’s truly not too deep but always happens in our surroundings. Anyway, the premise seems a bit of a confused if you think there is a logical way. If we think that alien absorb their concept and become crazy, we will unbelieving as well with the words speak by Sakurai. Sakurai sees Akira as an unusual teenage girl. That’s what makes him not stay silent even for the Japanese government itself. However, a scenario played just for their own desire but not for Sakurai.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa provides a truly unique illustration. The concept of the image in human brains are indeed far more modern than a machine. The concept then becomes one of the benchmarks of why humans always went through complicated things, complex, and difficult to understand. In fact, for each individual not necessarily. But what if its concept lost? Humans then turn into nothing. They look like people with a loss. On the other hand, they exiled in normal life. Aliens are representations of those who have nothing to do with humans when dealing with concepts. However, they could be ‘outsiders’ who are able to understand the bonds between humans.

A great appreciation of character development and actors. Ryuhei Matsuda was successful in bringing his emotionless flat-faced alien like a ragdoll. The parts of the actors who cast as aliens, besides Matsuda, are an entertainment even though they were at first quite funny. Nagasawa also successfully built her character as a wife who was so caring with her husband. This film is a pure drama where it doesn’t focus too much on romance. The existence of characters and chemistry between both characters is full of gray. The music has an ambient impression. A few dark humor that isn’t too pushy sometimes makes this film not too boring. A combination that tends to be sarcastic with full of drama stories.

The cinematography seems simple but simplicity is impressive. A dish that is quite simple, fun, but rather difficult to understand. “Before We Vanish” is a spectacle that is so intriguing, full of drama, but a plot that tends to be in slow. In some scenes, there is an obvious plot hole and there is so much waste of times. For the rest, this is a horror, thriller, and drama movie. A film about understanding the nature of human complexity and what’s actually missing.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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