Daigo Kobayashi is a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and 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.

Also Known As: Вiдбуття, Nokan - Die Kunst des Ausklangs, Preydot, Отпътувания, Αναχωρήσεις, Lähtöjä, La felicidad de vivir, Islydetojai, Ärasaatjad, Indulások, A Partida, Последно сбогом, Azimat-ha, Violines en el cielo, Son veda, Departures, Despedidas, Távozások, Avsked, Final de partida, Song xing che: li yi shi de yue zhang, Okuribito, Ушедшие, 'Plecări', Odlasci, Pozegnania, Alraheel, Anahoriseis

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  • olav-isaksen
    olav isaksen

    I doubt that “Departures” would appeal to a mass audience. That’s because while it is a beautiful and artistic film, it’s also about death–a topic most folks are very hesitant to think about…let alone go to a theater to see. But, I strongly advise you to stick with the film–it’s well worth seeing and I can see why this film received the 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.Daigo is a nice man. But, the orchestra in which he plays has been disbanded and he needs a job. He answers an ad in the newspaper for a job he THINKS has to do with a travel agency–not realizing that the job entails doing funeral rituals. Now this part of the film requires a bit of explaining, as such jobs are completely unknown in the USA. Instead of the mortician just picking up a dead body for burial (or cremation in most cases, as that is the Shinto tradition), there are people whose job it is to ritually prepare the corpse in front of the family–a strange way to handle a wake by Western standards. Now I am NOT being critical of this service–in the film, it had an odd sort of beauty and artistry about it. It’s just very different from how death is handled in this and western countries. To understand exactly what I mean and what this process is, the film shows several such preparations by Daigo and his very likable boss. What happens next? See it for yourself.Now HOW can this turn into a good film? Well, the movie found a way to balance all this–with respect for the dead, not making the film too graphic and maintaining a healthy respect for the characters. And, the final thing is the most important–as you really like and respect the characters. And, the film is chock full of wonderful supporting characters. Overall, it’s a very sweet and gentle film–one you really have to make yourself watch. After all, death is just a natural part of life–and the film handles the topic wonderfully.

  • kozlova-fiokla-iulevna
    kozlova fiokla iulevna

    The Japanese entry that received the Oscar for the best foreign movie deals with a theme that is not unique in the Japanese cinema – the death as a continuation of life, the caring and respect one owes to the dead which helps the living to continue with their own lives. It does it in a manner that is both emotional and serene, and the result is a film that will touch a cord for almost everybody who watches it.The hero is a musician, and this fact plays a role in the film, as it gives a pretext for wonderful music to be inserted and create the appropriate atmosphere or counterpoint in certain moments. He has to quit his profession when the orchestra he was playing in is disbanded and returns to his home city together with his beautiful and seemingly almost smiling wife. By accident – he is misreading a newspaper add – he is hired by an agency that cares for the bodies of the dead before cremation, a work so low class that he cannot even tell his wife about it. It’s well paid however and he takes it, and then he is confronted with the reality of the ‘departures’ – his employer is an artist in the profession of making the final moments of quitting this world honorable for the dead, but especially kind and memorable for the remaining family. And we will all become convinced by the end of the film that this is how it should be.The film certainly belongs to the category of melodrama, but then it is good quality one. Most cinema viewers are not ashamed of dropping a tear when something moves them in the movie and appreciate directors, actors and story writers who are capable to induce such emotions. It tells also a lot to the non-Japanese viewers about conflicts between tradition and new pace of life, and about family relations and the role of the wife in the modern Japanese family. I am not familiar enough with the social and cultural details of Japan to make a judgment to what extent they are authentic, but they are clearly articulated and in a delicate manner. The film is maybe 10 or 20 minutes longer than it should be, but there are no long intervals when it becomes boring, so its length is supportable. It is wonderfully acted and viewers will probably remember for a long while the principal hero played by Masahiro Motoki, the older dead caretaker played by Tsutomu Yamazaki, and the wife Mika, played by the wonderful Ryoko Hirosue. Cinematography is simple and aesthetic, although the scenes of the hero playing music in the nature seem artificial and the filming of the mountain in the background is too many times repeated and apparently unjustified. Over all it is a good and moving film. Maybe it was not the best foreign film of the year, but it was quite a simple and obvious choice for the jury of the Academy.

  • kayla-frazier
    kayla frazier

    Death might just be the most sensitive subject to handle in the world of cinema. It’s always riddled with emotion. If mishandled it can be disastrous, but if handled with a daft hand, the end result can be beautiful.The Japanese film, Departures, is a film about death, atonement, and an appreciation of certain things that others find dishonorable. The film follows Daigo, a cellist for the Tokyo Philharmonic. When the orchestra is disbanded, Daigo and his wife move back to his hometown, where Daigo gets a job working as an encoffiner (people who prepare dead bodies for funerals). In Japan being an encoffiner is seen as a dishonorable profession, and Diago must come to grips with his change in fortune while also learning about the beauty of death.Departures is an intriguing film, beautiful and highly emotional. To say that this is a moving film would not be doing it enough justice. The film is a fascinating piece of art. Director, Yojiro Takita directs the film much like Daigo plays the cello, with passion and intensity, often utilizing swelling crescendos and moments of silence to create genuine emotion. It is never manipulative, but simply beautiful.The film is full of brilliant performances, in particular Masahiro Motoki as Daigo. Motoki delivers a performance that draws the viewer into the film. He takes you directly into the emotional state of the character, and he is a large part of the film’s success. Of course it doesn’t hurt when a film looks this beautiful and wondrous to behold. The cinematography is stunning. The film captures the beauty of the Japanese mountain ranges with so much clarity. To cap it all off, the musical score from legendary composer Joe Hisaishi is magnificent. Hisaishi’s music always amazes me, but with Departures he has taken another step forward in his career.The real treat of this film is that it laces all of the drama and tragedy with humor and heart. It’s a recipe that just leaves you as the audience feeling uplifted rather than depressed. It’s a film where if any tears flow, they will not be tears of sadness, but rather tears of hope.After seeing this film I can definitely see how it deserved all of the accolades bestowed upon it (including the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the Academy Awards this past year). The film is brilliant. It is tough to find, but if you manage to find it online or playing somewhere near you, I strongly recommend seeing it and being moved by the power of this film.I give this film a beautiful 10 out of 10!

  • sherry-wright
    sherry wright

    DEPARTURES (aka OKURIBITO) is an experience film, one of those graceful creations of cinema that finds the balance between comedy and drama, sensitive and sentimental, and is embellished by a wondrous musical score and glowing cinematography. Running time is in excess of two hours, but likely most viewers would elect to rewind and watch it again, so touching and vital is this story. Daigo Kobayashi (the enormously gifted Masahiro Motoki) was raised by his mother when his father for some reason left his family when Daigo was only six years old: his last memory of his father is a quiet scene by the ocean when the child and the father exchange found rocks. Daigo was encouraged by his parents to learn to play the cello so that he could amount to something special as a man. Things happen: Daigo goes off to study cello, his mother dies and he doesn’t attend the funeral, he marries Mike (Ryoko Hirosue), and spends all their money on a prime cello to gain admission to the major orchestra in the city. The orchestra plays to near empty houses and is finally disbanded. Daigo is without an income, sells his prize cello, and with Mika’s blessing, returns to his hometown to live in the home of his childhood. He answers an ad for work, an ad that uses the word ‘Departures’ making Daigo think this is a travel agency. When Daigo ‘interviews’ with the owner (Tsutomu Yamazaki) he discovers that the job in one called ‘encoffinment’ (a Japanese ceremonial procedure of preparing, dressing & praying for the corpse before putting them in the coffin). At first repulsed by the job, Daigo gradually discovers the importance of paying final respects to the dead and preparing them for the life ahead, and his experiences with the new found beauty of encoffinment ties in with memories of his family, recalls his estrangement from his father, and reunites him with old dear friends who run a bath house, etc. Mika is spared the truth about her husband’s new job, and when she discovers the truth, Mika leaves Daigo who by now is enchanted with his position. Many experiences follow as Daigo encoffins all manner of people: there are some ugly scenes and some very humorous scenes depicting the variety of ‘calls’ Daigo gets. How the story winds down is not necessarily difficult to discern, but the manner in which the film ends is a work of great simplicity and beauty. Daigo’s dealing with departures allows him to find his own arrivals. Writer Kundo Takita and director Yôjirô Takita well deserve all the awards lavished on this perfect little film. But much of the success of this story about another way to view death is the astonishingly multifaceted performance by Masahiro Motoki, a beautiful man and an equally beautiful actor. This is a film to watch repeatedly and definitely one to add to the personal library of DVDs. Grady Harp

  • topuz-dundaralp-hancer-alemdar
    topuz dundaralp hancer alemdar

    I watched this movie on a Japanese Airlines flight from Tokyo to London having previously sat through James McAvoy and Angelina Jollie in the appalling and callous Wanted.Nothing in Departures could be more different. Here you see where the real pain of death lies: in those who are left behind. That every life come to an end is someone’s brother, sister, mother, son, father, wife, lover or friend. And this is what is explored in the film through the story of Dagio, a cellist who, with his wife, returns to the family house he’d been left by his mother nine years before. Needing a job, he becomes the assistant to a man who washes, dresses and applies make-up to corpses in a ceremony that each family witnesses. And on one level it’s about the deepening relationship between Dagio and this man – a growing father to Dagio – whose real father left when Dagio was six and whose face he can no longer see in his dreams. But this mentor/father-figure, a man of maybe seventy, is also moving towards his own death, and in one beautiful moment, we see him asleep on a sofa and Dagio tenderly tucking him in with a blanket; in the same way they both tuck the ceremonial sheet under the corpses they wash and dress.It is also a movie about forgiveness and understanding: a father finally breaks down, weeps and accepts in death his cross-dressing son; and Dagio’s own wife begins, when she actually sees what he does, to appreciate the value of the ‘unclean’ and strange job he has got himself.Even Dagio’s relationship with his mother is examined. He was not there for her funeral, because ‘he was abroad’ at the time; we assume, touring with the orchestra which has recently been disbanded. And he begins to play music again, with a new understanding, and to remember himself as a boy playing the the little cello that his mother and father bought for him. Because finally the film is about art. About the cello. About transcending life’s pain and turmoil. I was often reminded, while watching the movie, of the Korean film ‘Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring’. About cycles of struggle, failures, disappointments, beginnings and deaths. Hugely recommended.

  • autumn-alvarez
    autumn alvarez

    Views into cultures that visitors cannot experience are fascinating. Quickly reading the description of the film from the DVD jacket – I thought it was going to about the cello player and his family. Wow – was I wrong. However, the film is an accurate view into the stoic, unemotional Japanese persona. This was a hard film to watch. The marriage of the main character, young, attractive, healthy – is unconnected. They barely touch. They talk in generalities about unimportant things and never about what each is feeling. As the main character begins his journey into a new line of work – after being laid off from the symphony – we see how the Japanese face funerals without shedding a tear, silent. The ‘coffiners’ are more human, treat the deceased with more love, tenderness than we ever see the live people show each other. This somehow gives the mourners permission to allow themselves to show their sadness, their tears. This is not an action movie – don’t watch it if you are sleepy or want to vege out and be entertained. This movies will take attention and your thoughts will wander to your own or loved ones mortality/death. It does not have any scenes of violence or grossness – CSI shows way more of the dead bodies. It is not a ‘happy’ movie – it will generate conversations.

  • krievs-arvids
    krievs arvids

    It’s very surprising to see a movie about the taboo practice of encoffinment, become so university praise by critics. You would think, this movie would, fall under the radar of American & Japanese society, because of the dark subject matter; however, this movie became one of the highest-grossing domestic Japanese films of that year. It was even, a bigger hit international abroad; winning many awards from critics like the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of 2009. However, for me, I saw it as a one-time watch. A good movie worth checking out, but not worth revisiting, time after time, again. Loosely based on ‘Coffinman’, a memoir by Shinmon Aoki, and originally titled “Okuribito” means “the sending away”; Departures follows the story of a young man, Kobayashi Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) who returns to his hometown after a failed career as a cellist and stumbles across work as a nōkanshi—a traditional Japanese ritual mortician. He is subjected to prejudice from those around him, including from his family and friends, because of strong social taboos against people who deal with death. Eventually he must try to earn their respect and learns the importance of interpersonal connections through the beauty and dignity of his work. Can Kobayashi Daigo achieve that or will he be disconnect from his family & friends for the rest of his life? Watch the movie to find out, if you want to! Without spoiling the movie, too much, I have to say, this movie by director Takita Yojiro was very informative to how Japanese culture prepare their dead for the afterlife. This is pretty much, the main appeal of the film for me. To see, what steps, it takes for them to prepare their dead is very interesting; and I’m not known for having a morbid curiosity for such things. You really do learn, a lot about Japanese culture, by watching this. However, besides those, the movie doesn’t have much, going for itself. Yes, the classical cello music by composer Joe Hisaishi was indeed beautiful to hear and some of the film is very well-shot, but as a main stream appeal; it doesn’t really have some. It’s morbid curiosity at its best. I really don’t know, if American audiences would revisited this film, time after time, again like me. After all, the film moves in a somewhat slow, heavy-handed, and predictable pace. In my opinion, the conventional simple story is a little too-stretch out. The result of this, cause the movie to falls into a pit full of pointless filler scenes in the second act. Even, the third act, break up is very clichés. You can see it, coming from a mile away. However, most of the changes from the novel, in the climax for the film, was well-written and perform. I love the ending with the message stone. It was somewhat redeeming and heart-warming. As much, as it’s sounding like, I didn’t like the movie, I honestly did love it. The actors in the film are all, well-played. One thing, I’m pretty glad, the movie has, is English subtitles then English dubbing, because I would hate to see the movie suffer from bad lip sync. The subtitles really help a lot, because some of these rituals can seem somewhat confusing. After all, there are not many people that eat live squids, go to bath houses and drink Japanese tea in rituals ceremony, here in the States. It was nice to try to understand, such practices. I also kinda glad, the movie had some lighten moments. A good example is when Kobayashi and his boss, Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki) are cleaning a body that they thought was a woman, but they find out, it’s a man. However, one thing, worth noticing, about Japanese humor is how that joke and many after that, doesn’t have that much of a punch-line, because the film tries too hard to be respectful. I think, this film would work, better, if they allow more leeway in how they were able to portray the dead. Maybe there was a little too much calming, hypnotic grace with this PG-13 film. It mask people’s fears, too much that humor and drama can’t really shine through. I think this is why, the movie kinda suffers, when it comes to rewatch value. Maybe, it could had work better, as an R-Rated film, but that’s just a maybe. Anyways; Overall: Departures is alright movie. Somewhat overpraise, but still a great film worth checking out. After all, it’s nice to see films like this, reverse prejudice against a once taboo subject.

  • dana-robinson
    dana robinson

    Just Finished watching it and Its really hard for me to explain how much I liked it. Its a masterpiece and certainly is one of the Best Movies of Decade.The story is the best part of the movie and director , editors, cinematographers and actors have given their best as well. I don’t know Japanese since I am from Pakistan but I really could get the Idea of writing of the screenplay. The ending could have been a little better.The movie sure is very sad and I cried like a baby. I don’t cry often while watching movies but it was sensitive direction and original score which made me cry so hard.I will remember this movie for my whole life. Just loved It. It should have got lot more Oscars It is the best movie of 2008.And it just entered in my personal favorites as well.My rating… 9.5/10. Its a landmark and a Great view of life and death and Such movies are not made Often. Its sad that it never appeared in top 250.

  • myrthe-martens-van-bruchem
    myrthe martens van bruchem

    Without irony, there is a funereal grace to this 2009 dramedy, so much so that one can sometimes hear the distinct echoes of film master Yasujiro Ozu (“Tokyo Story”) in director Yojiro Takita’s subtle yet stately look at the business of preparing deceased bodies for their caskets. Ozu’s influence can be felt most in the quietude of tone that reveals the inevitability of death with both grim humor and spiritual awakening. The film’s lyricism rests on the mournful cello accompaniment of the protagonist, Daigo Kobayashi, a young cellist who finds himself jobless after his Tokyo-based orchestra is disbanded. Out of economic necessity, he and his sunny, supportive wife Mika move back to his late mother’s house up north in Yamagata.As outlined in Kundo Koyama’s somewhat methodical screenplay, the story focuses on the challenge Daigo faces in finding one’s place in life, no matter how dubious it may seem to others. Daigo, bereft of his passion, answers a job ad involving “departures”, which leads him to believe the company is a travel agency. However, he quickly realizes the two-person operation is actually about preparing bodies for burial, ritually cleansing and cloaking them while the mourners watch. Initially aghast, he is convinced by the taciturn owner Mr. Sasaki that he is ideal for the role of assistant and offers him the job. He has to fight his own prejudices as well as others about the supposed unseemliness of his profession, including Mika, who finds out her husband’s new profession and pronounces him unclean. Daigo, however, realizes he has found his passion in the pre-burial ceremony, and Sasaki teaches him the ropes in a way that recalls Juzo Itami’s beloved 1985 comedy, “Tampopo”.Former boy-band singer Masahiro Motoki is genuinely affecting as Daigo, while Ryoko Hirosue brings a surprising layer of complexity to the perennially sunny Mika. The deadpan Tsutomu Yamazaki makes Sasaki the film’s key gravitational element with a minimum of effort, while Kimiko Yo shows an offbeat quality as his office manager Yuriko. The cinematography by Takeshi Hamada is top-notch with some memorable images offered along the way (like Daigo playing his cello on a hilltop), and Joe Hisaishi’s (“Kikujiro”) music score allows dramatic sweep without getting too epic. On the downside, the film runs too long at 130 minutes, and there are moments when the comedy is played too broadly and the sentiment laid on too thick. Still, the movie shows Japanese cinema still exudes a unique identity, and there is global vitality still in that country’s film industry. A brief interview with Takita is the major bonus on the 2010 DVD.

  • kathryn-christiansen
    kathryn christiansen

    The surprise winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2008, Departures snatched home the golden man from favorites like Laurent Cantet’s The Class, and Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir. Directed by Yojiro Takita, the Japanese drama is in every way a deserving winner of the Oscar.And I hope that with this win, more will realize that Japanese cinema is not all populist crap; it can be culturally rich and deeply intense too. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the second Oscar win (in this century) for a Japanese film since Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001).Departures tells a story of a young married man, Daigo, who loses his job as a cellist in an orchestra which is seeing dwindling audiences. He then chances upon a job advertisement and lands himself (unwillingly) as an assistant to an old, experienced professional who plies his trade in the coffin business.While Daigo is understandably immensely uncomfortable with his work initially, the job grows on him as he consistently brings in the dough. He does ritual cleansing, dressing, and make-up for the dead during the funeral before they are put to rest in the coffin, or in short, encoffinment. Because of the nature of the job, Daigo’s marriage falls apart and he feels unaccepted by society.But that is just the surface of the story. Departures dwells into something more intrinsic to our hearts -loss, death, guilt, regret, family, and love – emotions and themes that are omnipresent in our lives, but are often difficult to convey in film.Takita’s picture reveals these with careful direction, honest acting, and a surreal music accompaniment (by the legendary Joe Hisaishi) to the film’s many heart-wrenching moments. The characters are so well-realized that they take a life of their own; it is as if we know their entire life story, their painful past, and their hopes for the future.Not only does Departures tug at our heartstrings, it is also an eye-opening observation of a job most will shun without hesitation. Is it a loser’s job? Is it an unclean job? What the director does well is to convince viewers that it is neither. Through sprinkles of effective humor, Takita manages to bring a light-hearted warmness to the film, though this is ultimately overwhelmed by the sheer melancholia of it all.Departures is a touching ode to those who have left us. It is also one of the best films to grace the screen in recent years. It is a powerful tearjerker and a reminder that embracing death can be a very beautiful thing too. Highly recommended! SCORE: 9.5/10 (www.filmnomenon.blogspot.com) All rights reserved!

  • mladen-supraha
    mladen supraha

    Fixating itself on the pretext of death as a strong stigma to the Japanese rather than on the necrophiliac titillation possessed by those outside this particular societal circle, “Departures” approaches this issue with credible poignancy made more relevant when seen as a mitigation by director Yojiro Takita and screenwriter Kundo Koyama to a prevailing Eastern taboo. Although slightly undercut by an ultimately predictable script, Japan’s Oscar-winning entry for this year’s foreign-language film category is thoughtfully expressive, portraying a morbidly incriminating profession with dignified grace.Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) is a cellist for a symphony orchestra which disbands after a performance for failing to gather audiences. Having no job, he and his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) move to his hometown in his deceased mother’s house where, upon answering a help-wanted ad he mistakes for a travel agency, he ends up as “encoffiner”-in-training, helping his boss Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki) perform a set of ceremonial rites for the dead before cremation. Aware of the social demonizing of such job, he lies to his wife about it until she learns of it anyway and pleads that he finds a “normal job,” an appeal he finds tough when he increasingly develops a meticulous fondness for his work.Takita’s charming and ultimately touching apologetic on mortality charts the disorderliness arising from an individual’s social circle while he pursues his sense of purpose, with the titular itinerary suggesting more than the moribund ritual the film’s protagonist is subjected to. Thus, it also becomes a plaintive meditation on Daigo’s spiritual and moral development as he attends to the various abandonment issues that haunt him (a father who ran off when he was young and a wife that stigmatizes him for his newly found “filthy” career). Ultimately, “Departures” is as much a story of atonement as it is about dealing with mortality; that in order to fully embrace one’s existence, it is necessary to cope with death — both literally and figuratively — while nurturing the bonds that exist among those who still live.

  • jacob-cobb
    jacob cobb

    In Tokyo, the violoncellist Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) loses his job when the sponsor dissolves his orchestra. Deigo decides to return to his hometown Yamagata with his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) to live in the house that his mother, who has just passed away, left for him. While seeking a job in the newspaper, he finds an advertisement entitled Departures in the NK Agency and he schedules an interview believing it is a travel agency. However, he finds out that the position is to work in a funeral business as a sort of undertaker that prepares the corpse for cremation and the afterlife. While Mika and his friends look down on his job, Daigo feels proud with the recognition of the families of the diseased persons with his work. When the owner of the bathhouse Tsurunoyu dies, Mika finally recognizes the beauty of the artistic work of Daigo. When they are informed that his absent father has died alone in a fishing village, Daigo resolves his innermost issues with him.The winner of Best Foreign Language Film of 2009 “Okuribito” is a touching movie with a beautiful and full of sentiments story about life and death. The idea of death as a gateway to the afterlife has been explored in many movies; but in “Okuribito” it is disclosed in an artistic and beautifully sad way, through a dramatic and respectful but never corny relationship with the families of the diseased person. This wonderful movie was awarded with thirty-one (31) wins and three (3) nominations to several film festivals, and is supported by an original screenplay based on the rich Japanese culture that brings the most different and antagonistic feelings to the viewer; magnificent direction and performances of the lead and support cast; fantastic cinematography, lighting and art direction; and a stunning and stylish music score. My vote is nine.Title (Brazil): “A Partida” (“The Departure”)

  • roger-de-la-chauveau
    roger de la chauveau

    Beautiful and touching movie about life and death. My favorite movies dealing with the same issue are Akira Kurosawa’s “Ikiru” and “Red Beard”. Also, Juzo Itami’s comedy “Funeral” is pretty good one. Same as these master’s works, Director Takita successfully put good comedy elements in this serious film. The idea “Death is a gate for another world” may be based on Buddhism belief, but I am sure you can relate yourself to this story with your own experience of losing somebody important. Masahiro Motoki was at his best for the leading role. He once played similar role in “Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t” by Director Masayuki Suo (Shall We Dansu?) in terms of being put in awkward situation, involved seriously and end up finding the virtue in it. Music score is by Joe Hisaishi. Great as always. He has done great jobs on films for Takeshi Kitano and Hayao Miyazaki. I am sure this will be the best Japanese movie in 2008. 10/10

  • david-callahan
    david callahan

    Wonderful movie. I was moved. The subject of the movie is a profession called ‘Nokanshi’, which is to cleanse, dress and make up a corpse before it is placed in a coffin. Centered in this profession, the story is strong and understandable. All side stories are effectively woven. This movie taught me that death is not a simple end of life, but it could even trigger reconciliation of those who hate someone.Everyone dislikes a job to touch corpses. Therefore the classified advertisement is vague and the job interview is precarious, and the protagonist is fooled to join this business. In the classified ad, it said ‘Tabi no otetsudai (Assisting travels)’, but the boss said it is a typo and he corrected it to ‘Tabidachi no otetsudai (Assisting departures)’. Then the protagonist faces miserable debut scene with rotten corpse left 2 weeks after death. But there are many humorous scenes in the first half, audiences get drawn into the story. Then he experiences some impressive episodes of nokanshi’s work, and his father who abandoned him is mentioned.Normally I don’t cry at movies. But in this movie tears filled my eyes at several scenes, though it is never a so-called tearjerker film.As for acting performances, Motoki Masahiro’s acting is marvelous as well as his performance as a nokanshi. Yamazaki Tsutomu is the best casting too. However, for the wife of the protagonist, I think Hirosue Ryoko is too pretty and girlish and her acting is shallow.

  • eliza-wajdzik
    eliza wajdzik

    Many things can be told about this movie;How it remarkably handle the “Dead” issue, Meaning of life, family relations etc… But What I’ve mostly grasped from the movie is (I also witnessed that during my 6 months of stay in Japan) that the way the Japanese people do their job. Absolutely devoted, in perfect patience and discipline. No matter What they are doing and What the salary is… They could be a Waitress,a Garbage man or as in the movie; an encoffiner. They just concentrate and do their job. So if you got bored from your job, I simply recommend you watch this movie and compare yourself with the Guy in the Lead role.And think again.

  • krystian-ratka
    krystian ratka

    Probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. I have seen it at the 32nd Montreal World Film Festival and I hope it’ll be well awarded! Even though the plot line is the “death”, it’s done with such kindness, softness and emotion (every little thing in the Japanese culture is made like a piece of art) and being able to make us feel so much emotions concerning the subject was really enjoyable. It’s really a must see, the music is so captivating in every moment of grief. I had to hold my tears 5 times at least. I was also glad to see Tsutomu Yamazaki, I hadn’t saw him since Tampopo… that was years ago (there are not a lot of Japanese movies to see in french theaters.)

  • filip-ene
    filip ene

    easily the best movie i have seen in a long while. i just saw this movie during the 2008 Montreal world film festival. it is about a cellist(Daigo)who loses his job and must move back to his hometown. once back there he reconnects with his past, and comes to terms with his life, love and dreams.desperate to find a job, he answers an ad listed under departures, which turns out to be misspelled. it was supposed to say the departed, the job pertains to dressing, washing, and putting makeup on the deceased before the funeral.it is a job that most people look down upon because you earn money when someone dies. At first Daigo, does not like his job but little by little he comes to a new understanding of it. the process of prepping the corpse is shown in detail within the context of the story, and little by little we too as an audience get sucked in. it is an incredible ceremony to witness. the undertaker handles the corpse with the utmost reverence and care, every touch of the deceased is done with care and always with perfect precision. we realized as we watch that the deceased are shown the the utmost and ultimate respect before they leave us for good. it is a beautiful and solemn act that will make you cry.there are many other subplots that all tie up at the end bringing everything full circle. watching this movie one does not feel like we are preached to yet it is powerfully effective in making us realize how every moment is precious and we should not take things for granted. so ironic, a new comprehension on life while communing with death…this movie will not likely be shown in north America, but if you have the chance to see it i do recommend it strongly

  • ajda-lah
    ajda lah

    Almost three decades since starring in Juzo Itami’s classic The Funeral, Tsutomu Yamazaki once more shines in a tale woven around the rituals, traditions and theatre involved in Japanese death rites. The irreverence that makes Itami’s classic such a delight is present here. Daigo’s first day on the job playing a stiff in a DVD for the funeral business comes back to haunt him in hilarious fashion later on. However, there is also reverence, the film respectfully pointing out that the people who do this necessary but thankless task do not deserve the disdain and revulsion that their profession often attracts.Daigo loses his job as a cellist, returns to his inaka roots and stumbles into a job as an undertaker. Too ashamed to tell his wife, he slowly warms to his apprenticeship under the masterful tutelage of Sasaki. As he goes about his business, the inevitable traumas of a childhood long forgotten bubble to the surface as he goes about re-acquainting himself with the town. The conduit for the negative feelings towards his profession is Daigo’s wife Mika, who takes punitive steps on discovering his new employment.Screenwriter Kundo Koyama has to take credit for a script that moves along briskly, juxtaposing black farce with raw tenderness, all done seamlessly, and acutely observed. Lipstick on a corpse produces gales of laughter, and you are reminded that sometimes the best fun is had at funerals. Daigo moves towards a form of reconciliation and redemption through the promptings of those around him, and the comfort of his cello.It would be all too easy for material like this to lurch into sappy sentimentality, but the film tugs at the heartstrings without overtly manipulating its audience. Motoki has to take some plaudits for this for a performance that amuses at times but hints at deep inner turmoil at others. Hirosue is less consistent, at times indulging in the head-bobbing, giggly, saccharine sweet girlishness that is the forte of the Japanese TV drama actress. She has one line in the climactic scene of such stunning obviousness I am surprised it stayed in, but for the most part she redeems herself in the tense interactions with Motoki over their differing views on his new career. Overall, she convinces as the supportive but put-upon wife.From Kurosawa’s Ikiru through The Funeral and now Okuribito, Japanese cinema has a rich vein of movies that exploit the rituals of death. How those rituals comfort us, enchant us, and see us through to a place where the pain still exists but might come to an end, is laid bare in Okuribito. It is an absorbing, moving tale, full of laughter and tears, that celebrates the intricate details of a Japanese rites of passage while laying bare their universal function. Best seen in the cinema, to get the full effect of the luscious orchestral score.

  • matthew-king
    matthew king

    It had been years ago since a movie moved me so much that it had brought tears to my eyes, but I couldn’t keep my eyes dry while experiencing Okuribito. The story, acting, music and photography are all very impressive.I guess everyone can in some way relate to the emotions that are conveyed in Okuribito. In my humble opinion this movie is a classic in the likes of Akira Kurosawa’s and Yasujiro Ozu’s best work: subtle, elegant, serene, soulful, touching and timelessly beautiful. This kind of cinematic storytelling stands high above the usual formula-driven, soulless, commercial Hollywood crap.

  • miss-pamela-palmer
    miss pamela palmer

    By now almost everyone would have heard of this Japanese film Okuribito (Departures), given its win in the recent Academy Awards, clinching the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, beating the likes of crowd favourite Waltzing With Bashir, and the Palme D’or winner The Class. And now after watching it, it’s no surprise really, because if I were to go tongue in cheek, it’s the novelty factor, given that the Academy would never have conceived upon the notion that a film coming from Asia and filled with death, corpses and coffins, would be anything but a horror film. Seriously though, Departures have Awards written all over it, with fine acting complementing a strong story to tell.I suppose the equivalent of a “casketer” in local context, would be the embalmer. And it’s without a doubt a profession most misunderstood, and shunned because of our innate fear of death. We choose to avoid death where it had gone, and being an embalmer would unlikely be on any kid’s wish list of professions. Despite the stereotypical negative connotations, it is a profession that is quite dignified, because the professional is entrusted with the responsibility of helping the loved ones of the deceased cope with the passing on, and to help ease the pain in bringing some colour before the final journey to either the burial ground, or crematorium.Departures demystifies this profession in the Japanese context. And like all things Japanese, the process comes with an elaborate ritual of preparation, cleansing and presentation, all done with great precision, skillful grace and utmost respect for both the deceased, and the family members. The profession depicted here in the film, is one of the highest order, where we see exactly how the casketers go about their job, and the separation of duties with the undertaker.Masahiro Motoki (last seen in The Longest Night in Shanghai) stars as the lead protagonist Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist in an orchestra who dreams of going places around the world with his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) in tow. Unfortunately for him, his orchestra folds and he is forced to sell his expensive white elephant since he doubts he could make his passion into a successful career. Dejected, he convinces his wife to retreat back into the small town he came from, living in the house his late mother had left behind, in order to start a new life. Little did he know when responding to a job classifieds that a typo had given him the impression he would be in a career that involves travel. The boss of the shop Ikuei Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki) hires him on instinct, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.For the curious, the film is an excellent medium to showcase the profession and to do so in good light. We come to learn the craft behind the job, and the necessity of it all, be it dealing with grieving family members, or taking care of bodies that are bound for autopsies. Departures paints through Daigo’s experience, the varying spectrum of emotions that one as a service provider would have to face, as we journey with him from novice level. All’s not doom and gloom of course, as director Yujiro Takita paced the film with well meaning humour – again never slapstick or disrespectful – throughout the narrative.The story by Kundo Koyama also excellently portrayed Daigo’s relationships with his wife and with his mentor, where the former was like a rubber band waiting to snap because of Daigo’s deliberate attempts to not tell his lovely wife what he’s up to for a career in order to shield her from the taboo. With the latter from whom he picks up the tools of the trade from, there’s a surrogate father figure which he never had while growing up, resulting in some pent up hatred toward his dad who walked out on the family when he was young.It’s an extremely moving piece of drama that doesn’t get bogged down by melodrama, and I thoroughly enjoyed its themes of reconciliation, forgiveness and best of all, being a professional and serving with pride. It’s a fantastically crafted film with an excellent cast all round, and shatters all taboos that come with the profession of a “casketer”. I know it’s cliché to say this, but Departures will be a strong contender when I compile my list of top films for the year. It’s been some time already where I’m equally entertained and moved by a film, and without a doubt, do not let this depart from our local cinemas before you get a chance to watch it on the big screen. Highly recommended!

  • daniel-cochran
    daniel cochran

    This film is about an unemployed man taking up a job as a person who prepares body before putting into the coffin.”Departures” is a beautiful film. It is about the last journey before a person is reduced to ashes, yet it never feels gloomy. In fact, it shows that all humans die one day, and it is how we view it and how those left behind cope with death that matters. Kobayashi treats the bodies with such enormous respect and dignity, which touches me a lot. “Departures” is a film to feel. It makes you think and feel about such a taboo topic which is not normally discussed. I commend the filmmakers for making “Departures”. It’s a must see.

  • danny-galvan
    danny galvan

    Masahiro Motoki is a good comic mime, a useful talent for depicting a Japanese in distress. He plays Daigo Kobayashi, a young cello player who faces the end of his chosen career when the Tokyo symphony orchestra he is part of is dissolved by its owner. He doesn’t think he has the talent to get into another orchestra so he sells his expensive cello (which he’s still paying for) and moves back to his town in the country. His wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) assents to this with brave smiles. There’s a house there for them that his mother left him.And then comes the job. Daigo answers an ad that’s promising. “Departures,” it says. He assumes something in travel. Easy hours, good pay. The boss hires him immediately and gives him a wad of bills. Only trouble: the work is “encoffination,” or putting dead people into caskets for cremation. (“Departures” was a misprint for “Departed.”) This is where Motoki gets to make funny faces as he struggles with surprise, discomfort, and out and out nausea. The first corpse his boss Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki) takes him along to work on is an elderly lady who was dead two weeks before she was found, and it’s summertime. After this ordeal he can’t face dinner without retching. He hides from his wife what he is doing. But the pay is good and the boss is a decent man and he needs work so he stays on.In professional lingo Moviefone calls this movie “a feel-good dramady about death.” Younger people, already sick of the Academy’s easy Oscar choices, mocked its members for giving the Best Foreign prize this year to ‘Departures’ over the edgy Israeli animation about war trauma, ‘Waltz with Bashir.’ Yes, ‘Departures’ is softer; but it has depths and its subject is universal. I’d listen to the octogenarian wisdom of the veteran New York critic Andrew Sarris, who calls this “the most moving film I have ever seen commemorating the bonds between the living and the dead.” It’s also a lesson in the beauty of Japanese tradition that expresses those bonds. Not so long ago, as Sasaki explains to Daigo, Japanese families prepared their own departed. Now the funeral agents and the casket preparers (Sasaki is the latter) have moved in. But the process still retains traditional honesty and grace. In a process both elegantly respectful and forthright, the body is prepared in front of the assembled family mourners by the funeral professionals. (Sasaki turns out to be a very good one.) In a series of graceful gestures. the body is wiped and cleaned, undressed, turned, and re-clothed, the face caressed, the hands smoothed and placed together just so, all with the deftness of motion that is the Japanese genius, and always discretely shielding the flesh of the deceased from the view of the watchers. Then, well wrapped, the body is gently laid in the casket. The mourners may come forward and say their goodbyes before the box is closed. Shortly thereafter it is taken to a crematorium. Daigo quickly masters the respectful drama of this process, particularly the way the face and hands are manipulated and the clothing is moved, and comes to appreciate the profound emotional meaning it has for the mourners. It’s both a leave-taking of the person and an acknowledgment that the deceased is really already gone. Of course immensely complex feelings are involved. Daigo settles into the work. Nonetheless he continues to hide from Mika what he’s doing.When she finds out, she goes home to her mother, promising to return only when Daigo quits the job. But the way he enjoys playing his small but tuneful childhood cello again now shows he accepts his new circumstances and is not unhappy. Daigo’s roots in the town are symbolized by the old bath house where he goes to cleanse himself after the dressing of the decomposing old lady on his first days’s work. It is run by another old lady, Tsuyako (Kazuko Yoshiyuki), the mother of his former best friend. When she suddenly drops dead and Mika returns for the encoffination ceremony, she realizes the beauty and importance of the ritual Daigo performs for Tsuyako’s family. Daigo’s father ran a café in their house and went off with a young waitress when he was a boy, abandoning him and his mother. He hates his father and doesn’t want to know anything about him. But when by chance — or more accurately screenwriter Kundo Koyama’s obvious arrangement — he learns about his father’s death, Mika pushes him to go and do the ceremony himself, with her at his side, and this time the ritual is a profound personal healing process for Daigo himself, whose tears pour down as he performs it. When a few months pass and winter comes Mika comes back to live with Diago after she discovers she’s pregnant, even though she still wants him to quit the job. The film underlines how humble and traditional roles are essential to a society, even as it looks down on them, by showing the dignity of the encoffination process; of the man who handles the cremations; of old Tsuyako running the comfortable old bath house that her son wanted to close and turn into more profitable real estate.This film is a tribute to the magic and comfort of human ritual. Hence the encoffination process is shown repeatedly, even behind the end credits. It’s what the film is about: everything else is footnotes to this ceremony. Sometimes the mourners make it tumultuous, embarrassing, or comic. But it retains the beauty of a culture that knows the value of theater. Takita’s movie is more than the sum of its sometimes sentimental or obvious parts. In the beauty of its most humdrum moments, with its focus on everyday family necessities (it celebrates food too), ‘Departures’ is not at all remote from the quintessentially Japanese quotidian grandeur celebrated in the film masterpieces of Yasajiro Ozu.

  • marta-esparza
    marta esparza

    “Okuribito”, literally “The person who sees off”, is about a supposedly untalented cellist’s new job. After returning to hometown as a failure in the music world, he applies for a job with vague description. It turns out to be a job posting for “encoffiner”, a person who performs rites and rituals before placing the body into the coffin. A ‘tainted’ job in the eyes of the society, but he eventually develops pride and purpose in this profession.The movie started with subtle humor that had me chuckling for first hour, but I was slowly drawn into the story. It turned out to be a very touching and deep film.The acting in this film was superb. Motoki Tomohiro’s performance was especially amazing, hilarious at times, and played the serious and professional scenes very convincingly. I also really liked his narration, which really sets the mood and tone of the following scenes. Yamazaki Tsutomu was also excellent as the protagonist’s cool mentor. The film had incredibly nice flow and very well-directed. Music in this movie played a huge role, expressing the protagonist’s feelings and harmonized with every scene. It was simply beautiful.This movie gave me a glimpse of the profession of “encoffiner”, as a very respectable job, as it requires absolute accuracy, professionalism, and the respect for the dead even though it is looked down by the society. It is the encoffiner who sees off a person’s last journey after dressing them up. This movie successfully depicts the pride in one’s job, and questions the meaning of death.

  • dr-ashlee-young
    dr ashlee young

    I have read many reviews on this movie and have been surprised by what I saw. I saw many reviews with comments such as this didn’t deserve its Oscar win and that this movie was far from a masterpiece because it was too sentimental and exaggerated.One person proposed showing less scenes of him with the cello, speeding up the movie, and cutting out scenes with long stares. I disagree and believe that this movie is beautiful the way it is. This movie is not overbrimming with sentimentality; it has a good amount for such an emotional film. The scenes with the cello and the birds represent the passion and emotions he feel. We don’t call Shakespeare’s long poems sentimental so why do we call this work of Japanese art that? The more I heard the music I felt like the more I understood the movie. Western movies sometimes disregard time in movies allowing action to follow action. This movie was simply about the meaning of living knowing that we would die. The long, drawn out silences were necessary to convey emotions. If you have studied many Asian cultures, you know that they convey emotions not through words but through silence. The silences give us time to ponder and think about the questions raised, something we are often not given in bang bang action American films.As a musician, I feel like this whole movie is like song filled with much raw emotion.

  • rati-inasarize
    rati inasarize

    The human dimension of this film touched me. Some of these things touched me to tears. I list a few of them.1. The job of the professionals who prepares the dead for their last contact with the family (wake) and their passage to eternity (cremation). In the film, the characters who perform this job, teach the spectator a true ritual of respect and affection with the dead. “Respect and affection with the dead”: feelings that the modern life tries to banish from its practices. In the modern world, the dead are inconvenient and dispatched quickly in funerals where the majority of those who are present, entertain themselves with parallel talks, instead of focusing on the reason why they are there.2. The nobility and grandeur of this job that, in the film, is not associated with any religion, and is directly associated with dealing with human beings. This nobility and grandeur reflects also on to the dead, in the sense that it reminds us that the dead deserve our respect and affection, because a new stage of our relationship with them is starting.3.The way Daigo grows, as he learns this job, and overcomes (i)the social stigma that society imposes upon the contact with the dead and, also, the people who have contact with the dead, as well as (ii) his personal repulsion with repulsive material aspects of death (odors, rot, etc.)4. The way Daigo grows, as he incorporates the nobility and grandeur of the job he was forced to do because of the circumstances (he was jobless because the orchestra where he played cello was dismissed). And, when his wife discovers in what consists his job, and tries to force him to quit, he has grown so much that he chooses to keep the job instead to yield to his wife menaces.5. The way Daigo grows and which leads him back to play the cello and celebrate life more than ever, playing outdoors and playing at home as he used to do when he was a boy.6. The way Daigo wife grows when she has the opportunity to look close to the job of her husband, and begins to admire him and love him more. Wife who have the opportunity to convince Daigo to take care of his dead father, when Daigo runs away when he gets aware of his father death. Wife, who, when the opportunity showed up, says with pride to the individuals of the funeral, that were almost doing a dirty job with the deceased Daigo father, “my husband will take care of him, he is a professional”7. The way Daigo grows when he encounter again the love for his father and forgive him for having abandoned the family, while he prepares his old man for the burial.8. How death can be seen as part of life process, when it causes some people to become aware of how much love they missed, and how much they have been loved without being aware of it.All this happens because Daigo goes back to his hometown, a small town. That is, the return to his origins helps to renew the ties with the traditions and helps the character to put himself together again.I’m omitting many precious details that appear throughout the film. These details must be seen personally, because the film was made with great sensitivity and expertise, and deserves to be seen.Roland.