The premise of Plan 75 feels like a arthouse, social Logan's Run: in the near future, the Japanese government has launched Plan 75 that encourages senior citizens who do not have the resources to look after themselves to be euthanised.
This is a chilling premise indeed and first time direct Chie Hayakawa adopts a slow burn and clinical approach that might try the patience of some audiences, conjuring up some scenes of restraint yet devastating sadness. It is a damning indictment of a society who no longer feels the need to look after its elderly which are seen as a financial burden and this is a situation we are all complicit of and guilty.
As we follow an old cleaning lady, the chilling cruelty of it all is exposed as it is much easier to apply for that Plan 75 scheme than any of kind of social and financial assistance. Yet Plan 75 never feels like a dour lecture as the director choses to follow a gallery of characters who either apply for Plan 75 or are involved in some ways and she is more interesting in the human side of the story.
While it may take some time to actually get in the film and its pace, it becomes all the more engrossing as we follow the quiet lives of the people affected, particularly elderly cleaning lady Michi (Baishô Chieko) who, upon losing her already poorly paid job and with no one to turn to, has to resort to Plan 75. In a few scenes filmed and acted with quiet resignation, we see the hurt and injustice that she suffers with a certain dignity and acceptance but sadness to. Later on, as we find out those enrolling to Plan 75 get given the chance to call employees for 15 minutes chats to alleviate their loneliness, a moment in the film that is likely to devastate audiences.
Chie Hayakawa retains a certain realism throughout and the film does not become some kind of violent dystopia. Seniors who enrol into Plan 75 are given no deadline to go through with it and none of them are forced to join this plan in the first place. Yet it is all the more cruel that they left fending for themselves with no one to help, they feel that they have no choice.
A quietly angry parable that demands a certain patience from its audience but is all the more rewarding for it, Plan 75 is a masterful debut.
Review by Laurent De Alberti
Star rating: ★★★★★
Official Selection, Un Certain Regard
Plan 75, Japan 2022. Directed by Chie Hayakawa. Starring Baishô Chieko...