Review: Plan 75
- CANNES 2022: Produced by Japan, France and the Philippines, Chie Hayakawa's first feature film deals with the delicate subject of euthanasia in a subtle and slightly futuristic way
"No selection, no medical examination, no family permission. The simpler the better!" And there are even group or platinum luxury options. Life would therefore be great after the Japanese parliament passed a new law, if it weren't for a euthanasia programme presented as a novel solution to the problem of an ageing population. Such is the subject of the anticipation film (very close, and so possible and credible that it easily fits into the contemporary imagination), Plan 75 [+see also:
interview: Chie Hayakawa
film profile], the first very masterful feature film by Chie Hayakawa, discovered at the Cannes Film Festival, in the Un Certain Regard programme.
At 78, Michi (the remarkable and endearing Chieko Baisho) is still working as a maid in a hotel. But beyond her old friends, she is alone, without family, immersed in a routine that brings her back to her flat every day, her legs getting heavier and heavier. Around her, people are weighing up the advantages of the brand new euthanasia Plan 75 voted in Parliament and touted in positivist advertisements ("humans can't choose their birth, but it's a good idea to choose your death"), but Michi is not ready. However, the train of society will pass her by, depriving her of her job and gradually squeezing her financially, and the death of her best friend finally pushes her to join the 75 plan.
Young Hiromu's (Hayato Isomura) job is to "sell" this very programme, registering people and promoting it, even with a stand set up in the heart of soup kitchens for the homeless. But the appearance of his uncle, with whom the family had long lost contact and who signs up for Plan 75, suddenly gives a much more personal dimension to an activity that is timed and highly bureaucratised, right down to the industrial reprocessing of the bones from cremations. And it is precisely in the place where euthanasia is carried out (the registrants being accompanied until the final day by a psychological follow-up by telephone) that Maria (Stefanie Arianne), a Filipino economic migrant, agrees to work.
Loosely interweaving the trajectories of these three characters, Chie Hayakawa weaves a film of great acuity, exposing the different facets of her (important) social subject through subtly sketched portraits. Inevitably moving in its twilight dimension, the feature film nevertheless very carefully avoids sentimentality and the filmmaker elegantly demonstrates her many gifts, both on the narrative level (notably by arousing curiosity during an intriguing "shock" opening scene and with the very good balance of the three films in her story) and on the level of a discreetly very sophisticated mise en scène.
(Translated from French)
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