BEFORE WE VANISH (2017) Reviews and overview

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Before We Vanish – original title: 散歩する侵略者 Sanpo suru shinryakusha – is a 2017 Japanese science fiction thriller film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa from a screenplay co-written with Sachiko Tanaka, based on a play by Tomohiro Maekawa.

Three aliens travel to Earth on a reconnaissance mission in preparation for a mass invasion. Having taken possession of human bodies, the visitors rob the hosts of their essence – good, evil, property, family, belonging – leaving only hollow shells, which are all but unrecognizable to their loved ones…


“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. Kurosawa’s lackadaisical direction does not help, deflating any suspense and stretching audience patience with his snoozy pacing and baggy running time.” The Hollywood Reporter

“Ultimately, Before We Vanish serves as an inquiry into what constitutes humanity. However, while it recalls Kurosawa’s classic Pulse in visualizing an uncaring social structure disintegrating into apocalyptic chaos, it’s insistent faith in the individual conscience makes it the antithesis of the earlier film’s nihilist despair.” Variety

“There is, enmeshed with the aliens and ghosts of Kurosawa’s films, an aching humanity. He poses questions in the form of visual repetitions, excavates ideas from the staid mood of a haunted ethos. If nothing here lodges itself like the best moments from his earlier films, Before We Vanish still lingers. On its own, this is a fun, broadly satirical alien-invasion film, more self-aware than self-serious, but its beauty, its poignancy, comes from its relationship to Kurosawa’s other work.” Slant

“Whether it works for you or not, it must be saidVanish ends like no other alien invasion film ever has before. Ultimately, it is a tragedy, but it gives us hope for humanity. Characteristically thoughtful and deeply moving, Before We Vanish is easily one of the best science fiction films of the year.” J.B. Spins

Cast and characters:

  • Masami Nagasawa as Narumi Kase
  • Ryuhei Matsuda as Shinji Kase
  • Hiroki Hasegawa as Sakurai
  • Mahiro Takasugi as Amano
  • Yuri Tsunematsu as Akira Tachibana
  • 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


Before We Vanish was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

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