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

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Movie Info

Soon after buying an expensive cello, Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) learns that his orchestra is disbanding. Daigo and his wife move back to his hometown in northern Japan, where he answers an ad for what he thinks is a travel agency but is, in actuality, a mortuary. As he learns and carries out the rituals used in preparing the dead for their final rest, Daigo finds his true calling in life.

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Critic Reviews for Departures

All Critics (108) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (86) | Rotten (22)

  • 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…
  • Quote not available.

    November 17, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Heart-warming, funny, wise and profound. Not to be missed.

    December 4, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The movie gestures towards deep emotions, but an abiding soft-grained superficiality effectively insulates us from the piercing realities of grief.

    December 4, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Fascinating, witty and heartfelt.

    December 4, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Yjir Takita's bitter-sweet tale of the Japanese funeral trade plays a bit like a formal service itself.

    December 4, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Departures

  • Jun 24, 2013
    The Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film is, as expected, an accessible, yet heartwarming drama about music and death as the inert main characters: death as a gateway to the eternal, music as the machinery to heal the wounds of the heart. Conquered by a great cinematography (which is extremely common in Japanese feature films), the story acquires effectiveness in a gradual way, which allows us to get over the unnecessary melodramatic elements and the uncalled uncomfortable "comedic" moments, such as Daigo playing the cello with a rotating camera around beautiful landscapes or the initial "humor" that was suddenly killed afterwards. Props to Ryoko Hirosue for portraying the wife that any man would want; her smiley, tender and cute personality remarkably resembles that of my girlfriend, with the exception that she would have accepted any job I had taken since the beginning. 76/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 11, 2013
    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. W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 19, 2012
    Daigo Kobayashi is very attatched to being a cellist in an ocherstra, which unfortunately has recently been dissolved. He now finds himself living unemployed, and looking for a job. He moves back into his old hometown with his loving wife to start a new life, with a new job. But little does he know that his life is about to take him on a strange yet beautiful journey working as a funeral professional who prepares lifeless bodies for both burial and entrance to the next life. As dark as the plot might sound to be, this is actually a very touching film. It makes sure to bring joy into its main theme, "death." To bring great feelings into such a serious subject is hard to do, but this film sure does a great job on it. There are however, some gloomy moments in Departures but only when necessary. It seems as if this film knows a lot about human nature, and nature itself which makes it seem very realistic. From humor, to sadden, to hopes and dreams, to death, and so much more, these feelings are all balanced in such a great order that makes its viewing experience come alive. Departures really is a beautiful movie about life itself. Just life. Not religion and other's beliefs (even sometimes seeming like it), but life and nothing more.
    Emmanuel T Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2012
    Peaceful, touching and quirky funny, Departures is a very positive view on life and the choices we make, despite the topic and the very teary scenes. Poetic, slow-paced and beautiful.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer

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