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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 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” 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)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    The movie is uncommonly absorbing.
  2. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    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. It is as polished as it is heavy-handed, and it leaves one under a spell.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    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: 17 out of 19
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 19
  3. Negative: 2 out of 19
  1. Apr 19, 2011
    Beautiful 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
    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. TerryL
    Jun 20, 2009
    This movie sucks you into the film and you become Daigo. My wife and I rate it 100% on the spot for bringing to light the importance of love, life, death, coming to our senses, forgiveness and respect for others, no matter what their persuasion. We are going back with relatives to watch it 4 more times, and can hardly wait for it to come out on DVD. The Italian film Life Is Beautiful and the Chinese film The Road Home left you with a feeling of the importance of life, relationships, family and love. Departures adds another perspective to these great films. Taken together, you come away a changed person. The film lingers in our minds and will not go away. It is so worth seeing - and multiple times. Expand
  4. David
    Aug 30, 2009
    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. Sep 14, 2010
    Okuribito draws the viewer in almost immediately. The subtle, hidden messages are as prevalent as the obvious messages. It teaches the significance of life, death, love, and the importance of family. The phenomenal audio makes the touching scenes even more personal. A film worthy of our eyes and of the Oscar it received. Expand
  6. Jan 3, 2014
    A sensação que esse filme proporciona magicamente confortável, acompanhado de sua bela trilha sonora e personagens carismáticos. E com uma trama interessante. Expand
  7. Pat
    Aug 5, 2009
    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 19 User Reviews


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