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Review: Plan 75

Plan 75 expands one of Ten Years Japan’s short segments—itself a modernized (albeit extremely loose) adaptation of The Ballad of Narayama—to feature length, and the story benefits greatly from the additional running time. The plot revolves around a government program that allows senior citizens aged seventy-five and older to apply for assisted suicide. Of course, while the “service’s” omnipresent propaganda campaign portrays the act of choosing the time and circumstances of one’s own demise as noble and selfless, the reality is far less dignified: various economic factors often make the "voluntary" nature of the decision… somewhat dubious, to phrase it generously.

Although director Chie Hayakawa maintains an objective distance from the subject matter, it is never unclear where her sympathies lie. Her film is a desperate plea for compassion, arguing that a person’s "value" cannot be judged solely on the basis of what they are capable of contributing to society. Life is precious gift; even fleeting, seemingly inconsequential moments of joy (singing karaoke with friends, scoring a strike during a bowling match, splurging on a deluxe order of sushi) are worth celebrating. Conversely, callously treating human beings as a financial burden or a drain on resources—especially when they are at their most vulnerable—is dangerously cruel.

After all, once you’ve determined that the elderly are expendable, the sick, disabled, mentally ill, poor, and homeless are only a short trip down the slippery slope.

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