Writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa has proven to be a master of dread-filled horror with films like Cure (1997) and Pulse (2001), and in 2008 he stretched his creative legs to deliver the beautifully affecting family drama Tokyo Sonata. He shifted gears again this year to deliver an alien invasion tale like no other with Before We Vanish. It’s part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, part Starman, and all Kurosawa. Three aliens arrive on Earth in advance of an invasion, each taking over the body of a newly deceased human, and each needing a human guide to get them started. The three take very different journeys in their human shells, and it’s through their relationships with humankind that they reach their varied conclusions. The film blends genres with abandon as drama, horror, action, and comedy jostle within the sci-fi trappings, and it all works so damn beautifully. It’s a love story of sorts that deals in themes both cynical and optimistic, and while the ending is filled equally with hope and darkness, the truth at its core remains relevant: Listening is an underrated part of communication.