Okuribito (Departures) (2009)
Critic Consensus: If slow and predictable, Departures is a quiet, life affirming story.
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
Watch it now
News & Interviews for Okuribito (Departures)
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
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)
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.
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.
Okuribito (Departures) Quotes
|Mika Kobayashi:||So what is it?|
|Mika Kobayashi:||Like weddings? Maybe you can play cello for them. I'll get the sukiyaki ready.|
|Ikuei Sasaki:||That's a misprint. It's not departures, it's the departed.|
|Daigo Kobayashi:||The departed.|
Discuss Okuribito (Departures) on our Movie forum!