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Okuribito (Departures) (2009)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 104
Fresh: 84 | Rotten: 20

If slow and predictable, Departures is a quiet, life affirming story.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 8

If slow and predictable, Departures is a quiet, life affirming story.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 51,397

My Rating

Movie Info

Director Yojiro Takita and writer Kundo Koyama examine the rituals surrounding death in Japan with this tale of an out-of-work cellist who accepts a job as a "Nokanashi" or "encoffineer" (the Japanese equivalent of an undertaker) in order to provide for himself and his young wife. Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a talented musician, but when his orchestra is abruptly disbanded, he suddenly finds himself without a source of steady income. Making the decision to move back to his small


Art House & International, Drama

Kundo Koyama

Jan 12, 2010


Regent Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (104) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (84) | Rotten (20) | DVD (4)

The movie gestures towards deep emotions, but an abiding soft-grained superficiality effectively insulates us from the piercing realities of grief.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A moving celebration of life through showing reverence for death.

August 27, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
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The winning nature of the performances outweighs Takita's more obvious choices.

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
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Departures is sometimes macabre and sometimes manipulative, but the way it speaks to the spirit is miraculous.

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Departures is a loving tribute to the Japanese way of death.

July 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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It is as polished as it is heavy-handed, and it leaves one under a spell.

June 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

September 18, 2014 Full Review Source: MetroActive

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.

November 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

No doubt the best movie you'll see this year about the Japanese traditional funeral business.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

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.

September 25, 2010 Full Review Source:

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.

July 4, 2010

like the unfolding of a Mozart concerto

February 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

This Japanese film's receipt of the award for best foreign-language picture at this year's Oscars was a case of the Academy favouring bland sentimentality.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK) | Comments (4)
Sunday Times (UK)

The film, mostly set in a wintry landscape surrounded by snow-capped mountains, is fastidiously composed.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

This heartfelt, unpretentious, slyly funny Japanese film is worth waiting for.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent on Sunday
Independent on Sunday

Director Yojiro Takita and writer Kundo Kayama ... aren't afraid to give you an emotional punch as well as a punchline.

December 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Heart-warming, funny, wise and profound. Not to be missed.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Doesn't quite justify the enormous plaudits heaped upon its shoulders, but a warm-hearted comedy-drama with its own likeably odd sensibility.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

Fascinating, witty and heartfelt.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Yjir Takita's bitter-sweet tale of the Japanese funeral trade plays a bit like a formal service itself.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian

A safe and emotionally generous crowd-pleaser.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph | Comments (2)
Daily Telegraph

Moments of clarity and pragmatism are contradicted by flashes of inanity and dry, if well-delivered humour.

December 4, 2009
Little White Lies

Departures's whimsical take on the Japanese funeral industry proves surprisingly funny.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Departure's cynicism, ironically, is what makes the optimism of its last act so moving.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

A sentimental but beguiling charmer of a film.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Audience Reviews for Okuribito (Departures)

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.
February 11, 2013

Super Reviewer

Here's a good mixture of emotions, comedy and drama (could as well have served as a thriller had they thrown in some elements!!! JK) that strikes a chord with your heart and makes you chuckle occasionally. But unlike some have experienced, I didn't come across a sequence worth shredding a tear. The duration could easily have been trimmed without affecting the quality of the movie. Reducing the number of encoffining ceremonies wouldn't have affected the significance of the movie or its title in my opinion. The movie left two important situations unexplained/incomplete, all the more for those who need everything spelled out to them!!! I wish the timing was rather allocated to elaborote those matters rather than showing the numerous encoffining procedures. Most disappointing was the sequence towards the end. Either the makers shouldn't have touched that topic (It could have been omitted. That wouldn't have been great, but I'd prefer omission to going for it given the way they did it.), but since they did, I wish they'd given it a decent shape. Except for those minute complaints, I find the movie fit to watch and enjoy. And if you don't mind exaggeration, it's a marvelous family drama not to be missed. The journey of the self-acclaimed loser deserves a watch.

TIP: If you don't feel well and feel like throwing up, postpone viewing it for the time being. See if you can get anything else for time pass. Not that it's any hardcore, but at such times, even the least gross scene tend to be harmful. Good for you if it doesn't apply to you.
November 30, 2011

Super Reviewer

On the premise that life is beautiful and death can be so beautiful, Departures lives on a story of heartfelt traditional Japanese casketing ceremony boasting metaphors and depth with strikes of wit and humor. Fascinating and moving, the masterful performances, beautiful cinematography, and haunting musical score is none but an ode to beauty and perfection.
September 9, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

Such an understated, beautifully rendered movie. It made me cry, multiple times.
April 30, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Mika Kobayashi: So what is it?
    2. Daigo Kobayashi: Ceremonies.
    3. Mika Kobayashi: Like weddings? Maybe you can play cello for them. I'll get the sukiyaki ready.
    – Submitted by Andrea T (3 months ago)
    1. Ikuei Sasaki: That's a misprint. It's not departures, it's the departed.
    2. Daigo Kobayashi: The departed.
    – Submitted by Andrea T (3 months ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Nokan - Die Kunst des Ausklangs (DE)
  • Departures (Okuribito) (UK)
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