Departures

Daigo is a cellist who after the orchestra he played in is dissolved moves back to his hometown to live in the house his mother left him. With the prospect of unemployment looming over his life he answers an advertisement for a job dealing with departures which he mistakenly believes is working for a travel agency. The truth is its actually dealing with the dead, casketing the deceased for their final departure. This is a film that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure and is brilliantly subtle in its portrayal of death and how we view and deal with it. Obviously the Japanese culture is very different from ours when it comes to death and funerals but this doesn’t matter or hinder the plot and except the times when the film veers very close to cheesy, although it always manages to stay the right side, it is incredibly moving. Masahiro Motoki plays Daigo with a charm that allows him to be serious and funny when the script calls for it and the supporting cast are all superb. The pacing is perfect and fully engaging, the scenes where they prepare the bodies are captivating and the audience sat in silence listening to the quiet ruffle of clothes coming from the screen.  Filled with meditations on life and death it would have been easy for this film to get bogged down but it never does and despite its macabre subject matter you leave feeling strangely elated. Winner of several awards and its easy to see why, this film will stay with you long after the credits roll, a moving story handled brilliantly by everyone involved.

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