Okuribito (Departures) (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Okuribito (Departures) (2009)



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

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 hometown, Daigo answers a classified ad for a company called "Departures," mistakenly assuming that he will be working for a travel agency. Upon discovering that he will actually be preparing the bodies of the recently deceased for their trip to the afterlife, Daigo accepts the position as gatekeeper between life and death and gradually gains a greater appreciation for life. But while Daigo's wife and friends universally despise his new line of work, he takes a great amount of pride in the fact that he is helping to ensure that the dead receive a proper send-off from this state of being.more
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Kundo Koyama
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 12, 2010
Box Office: $1.3M
Regent Releasing - Official Site


Masahiro Motoki
as Daigo Kobayashi
Ryoko Hirosue
as Mika Kobayashi
Tsutomu Yamazaki
as Ikuei Sasaki
Kimiko Yo
as Kamimura Yuriko
Takashi Sasano
as Shokichi Hirata
Kazuko Yoshiyuki
as Tsuyako Yamashita
Tetta Sugimoto
as Yamashita
Toru Minegishi
as Yoshiki Kobayashi
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Okuribito (Departures)

Critic Reviews for Okuribito (Departures)

All Critics (104) | Top Critics (31)

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

Full Review… | December 4, 2009
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | September 18, 2014

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.

Full Review… | November 17, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

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

Full Review… | August 26, 2011
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.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010

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

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.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


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.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

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.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Okuribito (Departures) Quotes

Mika Kobayashi: So what is it?
Daigo Kobayashi: Ceremonies.
Mika Kobayashi: Like weddings? Maybe you can play cello for them. I'll get the sukiyaki ready.
– Submitted by Andrea T (23 months ago)
Ikuei Sasaki: That's a misprint. It's not departures, it's the departed.
Daigo Kobayashi: The departed.
– Submitted by Andrea T (23 months ago)

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