Review: Plan 75 is a challenging yet undeniably impactful film. It’s a powerful indictment of societal ageism and a stark reminder of the human cost of progress. Chie Hayakawa directs a wonderfully constructed soft sci-fi entry.
Chie Hayakawa‘s Plan 75 is not a film for the faint of heart. It’s a dystopian gut punch that confronts us with a chillingly plausible future where euthanasia for the elderly is not just legal, but actively encouraged by the government. Set in a near-future Japan grappling with a rapidly aging population, Plan 75 paints a stark portrait of societal dehumanization disguised as an act of “grace.”
Hayakawa doesn’t shy away from the ethical complexities of her premise. Instead of preaching, she provokes. Through three interweaving storylines, she forces us to grapple with the unthinkable: What would it be like to live in a world where your usefulness is measured by your remaining years?
Michi Tsunotani (Chieko Baisho in a masterful late-career performance) is the emotional core of the film. An elderly woman facing financial hardship and social isolation, she becomes a reluctant participant in Plan 75. Baisho’s nuanced portrayal captures the quiet heartbreak of a life nearing its end, forced to make impossible choices under a crushing system.
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Hiromu (Hayato Isomura), a young Plan 75 salesman, represents the moral gray areas of this dystopia. He believes in the program’s supposed benefits, yet struggles with the personal cost of selling death. Maria (Stefanie Arianne), a Filipino immigrant working in the care industry, adds a layer of economic disparity to the mix. Caught between survival and empathy, she navigates a system that exploits both the young and the old.
While the film’s cinematography is deliberately muted, reflecting the emotional bleakness of the world, it occasionally erupts with moments of unexpected beauty. A scene bathed in cherry blossoms offers a fleeting glimpse of hope amidst the encroaching darkness.
Hayakawa’s masterstroke lies in the film’s open-ended conclusion. Plan 75 doesn’t offer easy answers. Instead, it leaves us with a profound sense of unease and a renewed appreciation for the preciousness of life. This is not a film to be “enjoyed” in the traditional sense, but rather one to be experienced and wrestled with.
Plan 75 is a challenging yet undeniably impactful film. It’s a powerful indictment of societal ageism and a stark reminder of the human cost of progress. While it may leave you emotionally drained, it will also stay with you long after its runtime finishes, prompting crucial conversations about the future of aging and the very definition of a “good life.”
Watch Plan 75 on The Criterion Channel and VOD
Plan 75 (2023) Cast and Credits
Chieko Baisho as Mishi Kakutani
Hayato Isomura as Himoru Okabe
Stefanie Arianne as Maria
Yuumi Kawai as Yoko Narimiya
Takao Taka as Yukio Okabe
Director: Chie Hayakawa
Cinematography: Hideho Urata
Editor: Anne Klotz
Composer: Rémi Boubal