Thursday, March 10, 2011

Departures (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

A very touching look at honor, dignity and respect for the dead. While everyone frowns upon a job in the mortuary field, it's a normal part of life and some might just be a natural at it. Daigo is one such man that goes from revolt and disgust to having the greatest admiration for the work done, preparing bodies for their departure. Not only is it about respecting the life that used to be, but also comforting the family who are all engaged in the process. His music provides the meditated strength to connect during this time of need. The film also shows the traditions of other cultures as they send off their dearly departed to their next destination. In Japanese, koodoos for making the subtitles so nice and large so I could watch it on my normal T.V. without glasses. The film is actually pretty funny at appropriate times. Tasteful and thoughtful giving the viewer a new window into death that makes one think about life. I'm very thankful for the enlightenment into Japaneses traditions and ceremonies regarding death.

Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), is following his dream by investing in a fine expensive cello and playing in an full orchestra. But when the director comes in and says they must dissolve immediately due to lack of audience attendance, Daigo's dreams are chattered in an instant. His understanding wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue), agrees to move back to his childhood home where they can live in his mothers old home rent free. With great hesitation, he sells his cello as they start their new lives. An ad in the paper needs help in "departures" and it sounds perfect for Daigo, thinking it's a travel agency, he applies. He meets with the owner and is hired on the spot, given an advance and sent home while still in shock over what the position entails. He is to become "Nokanashi" other wise known as an "encoffineer." Daigo can not find the strength to tell his wife exactly what his will be doing.

The next morning Daigo and his boss Ikuei Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki), go to a scene where police have discovered and elderly woman, dead for at least 2 weeks. Daigo can not stomach a decaying body as he watches his mentor respect and gently preform the proper rituals. Daigo is angry and wants to quit the position but Ikuei sees his predecessor in Daigo's soul and encourages him to stay with it.

Daigo must eventually tell his wife what he is doing and others in town find out and look down on him, telling him to get a respectful job. It isn't until a very special woman of the small town, Tsuyako Yamashita (Kazuko Yoshiyuki), passes and Daigo is called to preform the ceremony. They now see the importance of his very special gift, giving way to great admiration from his wife and friends.

2008 - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Best Foreign Language Film

Shochiku Company, Ltd., Regent Relasing, Here Films
Director: Yojiro Takita
Writer: Kundo Koyama
Producers: Toshihisa Watai, Toshiaki Nakazawa
I viewed 1/11

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