Okuribito (Departures)

Critics Consensus

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

80%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 108

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 51,924
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Okuribito (Departures) Photos

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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Cast

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 (108) | Top Critics (36)

  • 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…
  • Fascinating, witty and heartfelt.

    Dec 4, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • 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

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

    Dec 4, 2009
  • Departure's cynicism, ironically, is what makes the optimism of its last act so moving.

    Dec 4, 2009 | Rating: 4/5
  • 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…

Audience Reviews for Okuribito (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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