Departures

"Very Good"

Departures Review


A minimalist approach to serious drama gives this film its emotional kick, even as it prevents it from really grappling with the serious issues in the story.

In the end, it's powerfully moving, and perhaps a bit too nice.

When his orchestra goes bust, young cellist Daigo (Motoki) and his smiley wife Mika (Hirosue) decide to move back to Daigo's hometown, where they can live in his family home. Daigo's mother died a couple of years earlier, and he hasn't seen his father since he was 6. He answers an ad in the newspaper for a job working with "departures", but this isn't a travel agency, as his new boss Sasaki (Yamazaki) teaches him the art of encoffining, preparing dead bodies for burial. And Mika isn't happy about this.

There are several fascinating elements to this story, most notably as we experience Daigo's initial revulsion for the task, which gives way to the realisation that this elegant ritual offers compassion and dignity to families at their lowest point. Each ceremony has a different twist to it, and director Takita shows us the details in an unfussy, almost stately way while coyly averting the eyes from anything yucky or tasteless.

This gives the film's first half a sharply comical tone, which plays out through Motoki's sometimes slapstick acting and Yamazaki's ability to hilariously steal scenes by doing virtually nothing at all. And there are vivid side characters too, from grieving relatives to Daigo's old friends. And of course, eventually a few plot strands kick in as Daigo and Mika's marriage is pushed and pulled in various ways and as Daigo discovers new things about himself and his job.

Parts of the film have a cheesy charm, while other sequences feel overlong or sentimental (one mid-point montage is rather sappy). But when the final events start to unfold, we realise that we've been set up for some serious emotional intensity, because we can see ourselves and our loved ones in these situations.

And we are forced to wonder why, in Western society, we prefer that our deceased loved ones are dealt with out of sight. That's this film's real power, and why it beat four better movies for the Foreign Film Oscar.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 13th September 2008

Box Office USA: $1.3M

Distributed by: Regent Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 84 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Ichiro Nobukuni, Toshihisa Watai

Starring: Gamze Ceylan as Mine, Ada Alize Ertem as Ezgi, Temi Hason as Birsu, Yavuz Hekim as Hakan

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.