Departures Review

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A young musician finds himself accidentally working, giving last rites to the dead and is unwilling to let his wife find out.


This year’s Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Film would surely be a contender in any feature category, in any year. Yôjirô Takita’s funny and profound film follows disillusioned young cellist Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) from his disbanded Tokyo orchestra back to his hometown. Confusing a small ad for “departures” with an entrée into the travel industry, he finds himself working alongside an elderly casket-maker, performing last rites on the dead, a career that leads him into elaborate subterfuge as he tries to keep the truth from his wife.

His internal conflict is portrayed with the same heartrending delicacy as the funeral rites themselves, while Takita brings warmth and wit to Daigo’s search for meaning.

Heart-warming, funny, wise and profound. Not to be missed.