Director – Chie Hayakawa – 2022 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 113m
Dystopian drama Plan 75 posits a plan whereby Japanese people can voluntarily have themselves terminated after age 75 and examines some of the resultant social fallout – out in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, May 12th
Sedate classical piano music is playing on the soundtrack. The image – out of focus, could be looking down a corridor. After a long wait, a man in a T-shirt and jeans walks, in focus, into picture foreground. There appears to be blood on his arm and he is carrying a shotgun. Ahead of him, as it now comes into focus, the corridor floor is sparsely scattered with objects: a cup and a bowl, an old person’s walking stick with four legs, something else which we can’t quite make out. He washes at the sink. Another corridor – a fallen walking stick, a pair of slippers, an abandoned bathrobe or perhaps a towel, a collapsed, half-folded wheelchair, wheel still spinning. T-shirt and jeans with shotgun descends the stairs. After a contentious voice over, T-shirt and jeans waits a long while, then points the barrel of the shotgun at his head and uses his feet to pull the trigger.
The contentious, heartfelt, male voice over: “The surplus of seniors is draining Japan’s economy and taking a heavy toll on the young generation. Surely the elderly don’t wish to be a blight on our lives. The Japanese have a long history of sacrificing themselves to benefit the country. I pray that my sacrificial act will trigger discussion and a future that’s brighter for this nation.”
Leaving aside the fact that all this could have been accomplished on screen with far more precision and economy in around a third of the time – something which incidentally could be said of the whole film, which runs just over two hours, and a very long two hours at that – this so-called ‘sacrificial act’ means not so much an act of sacrifice, but an act in which the perpetrator sacrifices not only himself but also a victim or victims. We never find out any more about either, this scene is presumably supposed to resonate with a piece of news announced over the TV or radio (we don’t see the source): today the government passed the Plan 75 bill, giving the right for assisted suicide to all citizens aged 75 and over. Hate crimes against the elderly are mentioned. (Ah, so that’s what’s been going on.) This unprecedented solution to Japan’s ageing population problem has captured the world’s attention.
Plan 75 is out in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema in the UK on Friday, May 12th.