Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Film Review: Departures (2008)

Departures (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a superb tribute to life and death."

After his Tokyo orchestra is disbanded, fate leads cellist Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) back to his hometown where he becomes a nōkansha, or simply a mortician...

Departures follows Daigo as he pursues his new career as a nōkansha, similar to a mortician, or better explained as one who affectionately prepares the dead for burial. Never seeing a corpse prior to, Daigo's new job begins with some understandable queasiness, but as his experience grows, so does his understanding of the job. Also, the job seems to be frowned upon by those from the outside looking in -- this is more evident as his life progresses and we see the reactions of said people. A deeply emotional, effectively meaningful, honest and genuine, and occasionally humorous film, Departures leads to a predictable yet moving ending; I could honestly see it coming from a mile away, but it still managed to hit me harder than most films.

Departures is a superb drama. The themes of life and death, as well as family and fate, are meticulously crafted to be genuine and honest. The film delivers a powerful message regarding what most of us consider taboo -- many of us don't want to take about death, yet this film does so in an honest, genuine, and direct manner. The subject alone is enough to get me thinking deeply, but the character and story ultimately kept me hooked long after the conclusion of the film. There is some humor, as well, which helps create a great consistency in the film; some of it was a little dark and unexpected, but it was actually humorous. Departures is a film with many moments of happiness and sadness -- moments where you'll smile and rejoice, moments where you'll cry -- it's a superb tribute to life and death. Aside from its plot, themes, and messages, I found Departures to be deeply insightful to the Japanese culture; it's a film that allows you to soak up so much, and I honestly appreciate this.

Masahiro Motoki delivers a great performance; a great character arc with many ups and downs, and he's great at capturing these moments. The rest of the cast is great as well. The film is beautifully shot, capturing every with incredibly elegance. The music is superb, Joe Hisaishi, once again, crafts a beautiful score that matches the beauty of the film. Technically speaking, Departures is a masterfully crafted film, overall. Director Yōjirō Takita creates an uncompromising, honest, and reassuring film about life and death; Yōjirō pulls great performances from the cast, and delivers a consistent film.

Overall, Departures is a magnificent film. It's a film that hits on many levels -- it can make you smile, laugh, and cry; it's a film that may even allow you to reflect on your own life, a film that can make you think. At face value, Departures is a fantastic emotional drama; beyond the surface, Departures is a beautiful philosophical look at life and death. And, as I previously stated, Departures is a real crowd pleaser for those interested in different cultures.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Generally a safe film for all audiences. There is one scene with partial nudity, and the

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