Plan 75, the review of Chie Hayakawa’s debut film
In an unidentified future, euthanasia is proposed by the government and advertised as a service to be used at one’s discretion, but whose use is joyfully supported. We are in Japan and Plan 75 is the director’s debut feature film Chie Hayakawa which had already been presented to the Cannes Film Festival of last year for Un Certain Regard and who won the Special mention of the Caméra d’or award dedicated to first works, to be precise.
The director had already worked in 2018 on the subject of the film by inserting it in a choral work entitled Ten years Japan composed of five short films directed by five different authors that tell the story of the Asian country in a future projected ten years forward. Chie Hayakawa has therefore expanded his narrative segment by lengthening it to the modest duration of 112 minutes, being inspired, among other things, by a true news story.
In fact, in 2016, the state of Japan was sadly involved in an event which, moreover, broke the record for the worst massacre which had not occurred since 1989. A 26-year-old young man broke into a nursing home at night in which he had worked some time ago and murdered 19 patients and injured 26 others. The reason he gave for the terrible act was the intention to reduce the economic burden that unproductive men and women weigh on taxpayers.
Plan 75, the plot of the movie
What triggered the idea in Chie Hayakawa was anger in the face of a progressive ideological change in her nation, which proceeds incessantly towards a concept of utility that tramples the human underfoot. So it begins Plan 75featuring two pairs of assorted elements: Mrs. Michi (Chieko Baisho) and receptionist Yoko (Yuumi Kawai) on one side, the clerk Himoru (Hayato Isomura) and his uncle (Taka Takao) on the other, plus Mary (Stephanie Ariannelisten), the Filipina employee of a facility.
Plan 75 of the title is in fact a new law that allows people over 75 to join a program made up of benefits and packages to choose from, at the end of which assisted suicide is expected. Chie Hayakawa therefore directs a story following with delicacy and excruciating melancholy the devastating loneliness of some elderly people and the upheaval of the everyday life of two young people in what seems to him to be a more than functional normality.
The slow and tearing passage of time
The most recent Japanese cinema therefore consolidates its codes: the use of the fixed camera which silently spies on the interiors of houses, intimate but painfully solitary, the exteriors and public spaces emptied of human warmth and which, on the contrary, simulate it . Chie Hayakawa calmly observes Mrs. Michi’s life, her initial attempts to support herself by doing odd jobs, despite her advanced age. And the tenderness that she arouses from her is heartbreaking, inserted in a contour of ruthless indifference.
The sequences linger for a long time in following the life of the old woman, to then have her accompanied by that of a girl with whom she will become friends and from whose meeting the story will begin to show a slow awakening of conscience and the opening to a glimmer of dignity. In short, it is exhausting Plan 75 at every moment it describes. Although it is the mirror of a mental isolation and a social indifference that we are beginning to know very well, this does not justify it to be so diluted in reaching a point which, for better or worse, is easily understood.
It is very probable – as by her own admission – that the director and screenwriter wanted to go on and on describing in great detail how atrocious it is to arrive at the end of one’s life and feel so set aside, so forgotten, as to wish for death to come as soon as possible. possible. The filmic quality in photography and editing are impeccable to the success of this purpose, not to mention the interpretation of the splendid Chieko Baisho, but it is equally true that almost half the time would have been enough to explain it. But perhaps, precisely for this reason, it makes the idea of what the protagonists feel even better.