Professional cellist Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) is left jobless after the orchestra he plays in disbands. He and his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) move back from Tokyo to the family home in rural Yamagata left by his mother, who passed away two years previously. Here he stumbles upon a vaguely-worded advert in a local newspaper for a job "assisting departures". He is hired on the spot by his new boss Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki), only to discover the post is for an assistant nokanshi, or traditional mortician, performing the Buddhist rites of washing and preparing corpses for their final journey. Initially he keeps the nature of his employment hidden from Mika, but as his disgust for his work turns to pride, he soon finds himself coming to terms with his own life, and the past memories of the father who abandoned him as a child.
Outstanding, warm, funny, beautiful
- Departures review by Bojangles
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.
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sensitive and full of insight
- Departures review by EO
beautiful film and careful drawing out of how we can come to fulfil a destiny with a gift unsuspected, unlooked-for and maybe not even particularly wanted. The film is long bt the time well worth it.
A Brilliant film. I am a long time viewer of Japanese films.
Totally absorbing in its view of a part of Japanese society and the sequences are totally unexpected.
I would watch again.
0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
Wonderful characters! Made me laugh a lot.
- Departures review by JS
Made me laugh in the same way that humour shook us unexpectedly when my mother was dying. A very beautiful film. Death in close-up can be very life affirming and very far removed from the kind of death-by-violence diet that the film industry tends to churn out.