An unemployed cellist stumbles upon a new career. Departures might makes you cry one minute and laugh the next. It shows how a man be opposed to an idea only to discover it’s exactly what he needs.
Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) dreams of being a renown cellist but is dashed when his orchestra disbands. He’s left unemployed and in debt on his world-class cello. On a lark, he suggests to his wife, Mika (Ryôko Hirosue), that they move from Tokyo back to his hometown; where his mother passed on and left him the family home two years prior. Mika is on board and they start over.
He finds a cryptic help-wanted ad, applies and is hired on instinct. As an encoffiner, he prepares dead bodies for burial. Daigo faces many obstacles—the job isn’t easy, you can never predict death and he is shamed for his profession (so much so he doesn’t confess his job to Mike right away). Eccentric Ikuei (Tsutomu Yamazaki), Daigo’s boss and mentor becomes a father figure and through him, we learn Daigo has complicated feelings toward his own father.
The burial ritual is lovely. The body is cleansed and dressed and the family bids farewell. The survivors’ reactions reveal the conflicted relationships, complex issues and unresolved feelings left in the wake of death.
Departures is a serious (and comedic) movie about death, finding your path and excelling despite the pitfalls you encounter. It won many awards including the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 2009.
Director: Yôjirô Takita
Run time: 130 minutes