Departures

Departures Image
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 52 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Departures follows Daigo Kobayashi, a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinkingDepartures follows Daigo Kobayashi, a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of “Nokanshi,” acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. (Regent Releasing)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    The movie is uncommonly absorbing.
  2. The film manages to be anything but dark; whimsy and sweet irony are laced throughout, a warmhearted blend that turned it into the surprise winner of 2008's Oscar for foreign-language film.
  3. A surprisingly uplifting examination of life and loss.
  4. 75
    The fascination, humor and poignancy of Departures, this year's winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, rests in the Japanese ceremony of preparing bodies for their caskets.
  5. Director Yojiro Takita uses the changing seasons to echo the characters' moods; the score by Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle) has a suitably majestic sweep.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    This is the kind of tastefully poignant drama that asks its audience to confront taboos and then pats them on the back for doing so.
  7. 42
    Here's a great way to start savoring life: Don't waste it on pat manipulations like this.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. Apr 19, 2011
    10
    Beautiful film, great story and an amazing lead performance. The little details are the ones that makes you to not stop watching!! A veryBeautiful film, great story and an amazing lead performance. The little details are the ones that makes you to not stop watching!! A very deserving winner of the oscar!! Collapse
  2. NeilR
    Aug 15, 2009
    10
    I'm concerned, but not surprised, that the American press gave this monumental film mixed reviews. In a country which exalts youth and I'm concerned, but not surprised, that the American press gave this monumental film mixed reviews. In a country which exalts youth and denies death, DEPARTURES must be a total drag for some viewers. I needn't tell the story, because it is available in too many forms elsewhere. I will say that I've never seen a film from any filmmaker or culture which displays such reverence and love for the lives and deaths of common people as this extraordinarily beautiful movie. Perhaps it is the contrast between the Eastern way of death and that of our own which made such an impression on me. But on a simpler level, this film tells the story of a young man who -- having lost all identity -- recovers it in the most surprising way. He learns not only to adapt to his new occupation but to honor it. And his work -- casketing -- preparing bodies for cremation -- reveals the ultimate gestures of honor and respect for the dead. Deeply, deeply moving stuff. The venerable Joe Hisaihi has done it again. His cello-focused score is lavishly orchestrated and simply gorgeous. This is his best work since PRINCESS MONONOKE. The ensemble performances are as good as you get. There's not one false peep from the entire bunch. Any decent, intelligent filmgoer who misses this has bypassed more than a movie. The script, the imagery, the values of this great achievement will impact the sensibilities of those who see it. Our lives have more purpose than we, our acquaintances and employers suggest. We would all be better off if we could pay homage to others when they were still alive; but this wonderful work -- funny and moving in turn -- reminds us that we have another chance to do so, and that that it is redeeming and beautiful. Don't miss it. Expand
  3. EricL.
    May 29, 2009
    10
    Very deserving of the 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. A great film!!!
  4. David
    Aug 30, 2009
    10
    One of the best movies of the decade. It handles grief, which is an essential part of our lives, in a gentle and human way. Gradually the One of the best movies of the decade. It handles grief, which is an essential part of our lives, in a gentle and human way. Gradually the viewer is carried into the experience of separation and its impact on those who stay alive. Expand
  5. StanG
    Jun 9, 2009
    9
    Though this film is about the preparation of corpses for cremation, it is in no way morbid. What it is is a touching, wonderful film that is Though this film is about the preparation of corpses for cremation, it is in no way morbid. What it is is a touching, wonderful film that is worthy of the Best Foreign Film Oscar it received. Expand
  6. Jul 5, 2013
    8
    Beautifully shot with some great exteriors; the landscape take quite a big part in this film. There were some lovely comic moments as well asBeautifully shot with some great exteriors; the landscape take quite a big part in this film. There were some lovely comic moments as well as some quite distressing scenes as the families go through all kinds of emotions as the say goodbye to their loved ones. I’ll admit to having found it quite touching at times and even shed a tear or two for my dear departed mum. Of course music plays quite a big part in the film and there are some really touching scenes as Daigo plays his cello out in the fields. I did find, however, that the final act didn’t quite have the emotional punch I had expected. Yes, the emotions were there, but it didn’t quite hit home the way I anticipated. Even so, it’s a film I really enjoyed and one I would happily watch again someday.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 8.2/10
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  7. Pat
    Aug 5, 2009
    1
    Well, I'm in the minority here but I agree with Dave. While the intentions were good, it just came off too manipulative and heavy-handed Well, I'm in the minority here but I agree with Dave. While the intentions were good, it just came off too manipulative and heavy-handed for my taste. I also agree that the other nominations for the foreign film Oscar were much more deserving than this. At least The Class won the Palme D'or at the Cannes Film Festival. If it weren't for the great visuals I would probably give this a zero. Expand

See all 20 User Reviews

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