Departures (2008) – Japanese Movie – Review

departures

Departures [Okuribito] is well deserving of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (2009) among its other awards. It’s a film about life and death — or more accurately the life in death and viceversa. Any viewer or reviewer will agree, it plays on emotions extremely well and leaves lasting impressions overall. Not controversial, but discussion-worthy and intriguing — Departures portrays the Japanese ceremony of ‘encoffining’ which is often a very private, traditional and taboo subject matter. Departures is a light-hearted yet dramatic film about a serious, real and humane topic. Directed by Yojiro Takita

The story is about a conflicted man, Dai (Masahiro Motoki) who loses his job and livelihood as a cellist when his orchestra is disbanded. He moves back to his hometown with his wife and finds a new job. By advertisement it appeared to be for a travel agency but really its for a mortuary. And the journey begins — in assisting the dead to the afterlife and much more (for Dai & the audience).

Plot summary
Full synopsis

departures

Photos

It serves as a dramedy for being half about Dai ‘finding himself’ (cliche I know) and half for the ceremony around death — a calm but strong approach at a story about life & death. Somber but true.

Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes // Love HK Film // NY Press (negative) //
Blow reviews: 1 // 2

aparoo says 5/5

You can also see Motoki’s ‘unique’ (and often criticized) style of acting in “The Longest Night in Shanghai“. After seeing both these films, I would agree that his ‘acting’ or ‘style’ is often awkward — but then again that makes it more realistic and human in some sense.

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