Okuribito (Departures)

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 106

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 51,928


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4/5

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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.

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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
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Critic Reviews for Okuribito (Departures)

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (33)

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

    Dec 4, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Yjir Takita's bitter-sweet tale of the Japanese funeral trade plays a bit like a formal service itself.

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

    Xan Brooks

    Top Critic
  • Takita eventually pushes the emotions too hard but by then I had lost all resistance. It's a beautiful film but take two hankies.

    Oct 15, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Departures is about life, death, grief and loss, but it's also, in a quietly effective way, about coming to terms with expectations.

    Oct 15, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A moving celebration of life through showing reverence for death.

    Aug 27, 2009
  • The winning nature of the performances outweighs Takita's more obvious choices.

    Jul 16, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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 Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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
Kevin M. Williams

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.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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