Okuribito (Departures) (2009)
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as Daigo Kobayashi
as Mika Kobayashi
as Ikuei Sasaki
as Kamimura Yuriko
as Shokichi Hirata
as Tsuyako Yamashita
as Yoshiki Kobayashi
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Critic Reviews for Okuribito (Departures)
The movie gestures towards deep emotions, but an abiding soft-grained superficiality effectively insulates us from the piercing realities of grief.
The laughter and family fights that break out at funerals might be part of this movie's rural, working-class eye. Departures favors farmland and old-fashioned wood-fired bathhouses over the Tokyo mania. It celebrates old-style, hands-on craft.
The scripting of Departures (by Kundo Koyama, the one-man TV-drama writing factory who nurtured such delights as Iron Chef) is embarrassingly clunky and obvious: the movie's essential hollowness reveals itself with unusual starkness.
No doubt the best movie you'll see this year about the Japanese traditional funeral business.
Death is normal, and so are responsibilities, reconciliations and retreats from what we think are our dreams. In a resolution about identifying ourselves, and loved ones, in life and death, "Departures" shows some people must be left just as they went.
Lead Masahiro Motoki apprenticed with real nakanshi for the role, and you become entranced by his performance, and the gentle clash of ritual and grief, custom and modernity.
Audience Reviews for Okuribito (Departures)
A beautiful, sensitive and profoundly moving ode to the beauty of life and death, with a surprising sense of humor and a gorgeous score - the kind of film that touches deep inside our feelings like few others, making us appreciate and celebrate the wonder of being alive.
Beautiful, tightly-woven plot, powerful scenes that are keenly Japanese, by turns funny and tearful, and all the story nuggets are carried through and wrapped up in a satisfying manner.
The filmmakers really explored the full dramatic potential of this unconventional line of work, exploiting its comical surprises and 'body humour' when Daigo is first initiated into his job, then gradually developing our understanding of the dignity and importance of the work, as well as capturing Japanese society's (through the lens of Daigo's wife and friend's) attitudes towards the dead as "unclean" or disreputable. The scenes where the protagonists works devotedly to win everyone over, and where he confronts his childhood demons, stand testament to the sublime elegance of this film. Highly recommended.
A musician/cultural sophisticate wannabe is shocked when hired to regularly participate in the traditional though frowned upon Japanese preparation for departure ceremony but slowly comes to find humanity in the highly orchestrated rituals of the process. A well done work and very engaging, altho often as obvious as all hell. I personally found the old timer's (Yamazaki) version of the process more poetic.
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