starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mahiro Takasugi, Hiroki Hasegawa
screenplay by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Sachiko Tanaka, based on the play by Tomohiro Maekawa
directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
by Angelo Muredda The apocalypse becomes an occasion for everything from learning what makes humans tick to getting to know the distant alien who is your significant other in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's genre-defying twentieth feature Before We Vanish, which might be most firmly characterized as a black comedy if it weren't so puckishly sunny. A return to form of sorts after Creepy and Daguerreotype, neither of which were without their charms but did feel at times like a master's idle wheel-spinning, Before We Vanish works best as a high-concept sampler platter of the wildly divergent tones Kurosawa is uncommonly good at mixing up. That isn't to say the alien-invasion framework and neatly-bifurcated dystopian road movie/romcom structure are purely excuses to see how much mileage Kurosawa can get out of his generic indeterminacy. Still, one would be hard-pressed to deny that half the fun lies in taking the film in as the strange sum of its many seemingly ill-fitting parts.