A delightful and sensitive journey into the heartland of Japan and an astonishingly beautiful look at a sacred part of Japan's cultural heritage, Departures tells the story of Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Matoki), a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved who now finds himself without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled "Departures" thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of "Nokanshi," acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.
Outstanding, warm, funny, beautiful
- Departures review by Bojangles
(5) of (6) members found this review helpful.
You rated this film: 5
I love the way this film is shot and how the story unravels. There are wonderful 'normal' people in this film. Ok, so it looks honestly at death - but this is the time where human emotions fire off in all directions. The subject worked well for the marvellous 'Six feet under' and it works well here too. So much. Wonderful performances, meticulously shot over the seasons. Fine attention to detail.
I liked this - some good writing and characterisation. The first film I've ever seen about Japanese funeral rites, anyway!
The problem is that the film is just too long and the last third drags terribly. If the film had been 90 minutes, it would have been better. I also didn't understand why the main character;s wife was so hysterical because he was an undertaker. Baffling. Maybe it's like that in Japan...
Having said that, it's still an excellent and beautifully shot film.
Yes,this is well filmed, but nevertheless I found it pretty depressing looking at over two hours of Japanese death and embalming rituals, which is what the film continually focuses on, without much else at all in the way of light relief.