Departures In Theaters
Winner "2009 Best Foreign Film Oscar"
"Departures" - The movie "Departures" is a delightful and sensitive excursion into the heartland of Japan and an astonishingly beautiful look at a very special part of Japan's cultural heritage. A premiere symphony orchestra in Tokyo disbands, leaving Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) suddenly unemployed. Suffering from an innate sense that he is a mediocre musician, he faces up to the fact that not everyone who has devoted their life to music can become a top artist. With wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue), in tow, he moves back to his home town in the northeastern prefecture of Yamagata. They move into the crumbling remains of his mother’s house, which doubled as the local pub. Spotting a Help Wanted ad featuring the word “departures,” he is excited about the prospect of trying a new career in the travel industry. He arrives for the interview, curiously eyeing the coffins lining the back wall of the office. The company owner, Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki), hires him on the spot, with only a cursory glance at his resume. Daigo finally ventures to ask what is involved, exactly, and is stunned to learn what he has gotten himself into; the ceremonial “encoffination” of corpses prior to cremation. Sasaki urges him to take the job, proffering large amounts of cash. He’s getting older, and needs someone to carry on the tradition. In desperate straits, Daigo overcomes his initial trepidation and begins to travel around Hirano with Sasaki. Sasaki is comically matter-of-fact, but firm in his directives, and the contention that they are providing an important service to their community. Some cases are markedly traditional, featuring beatific family members in time-honored transition. Others highlight family dramas fraught with inevitable collisions, eased into unexpected conclusion. True to Sasaki’s expectations, Daigo develops a deep respect for life in all its variations, and a profound empathy for people trying to make peace with the finality of death. Too embarrassed to tell his wife about his conversation stopping profession and admit that he has fallen in love with the townsfolk, Daigo vainly tries to keep his new life secret. As their relationship hangs in the balance, the big question is how he’s going to react to surprising news she brings, as an encoffineer, as a husband, as a son and as a human being. It is Daigo’s turn to deal with life and death among the people who are dearest to him. A story of love, of discovery, of revelation and of the transcending human spirit, "Departures" will linger in your heart and mind long after viewing.
STARRING: Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Kimiko Yo, Takashi Sasano
DIRECTOR: Yojiro Takita
STUDIO: Regent Releasing
RATING: Not Rated
THEATER COUNT (Opening Weekend): 2
RUNNING TIME: 2 hours, 11 minutes
LANGUAGE: Japanese (With English subtitles)