Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards, Departures
takes a sensitive look at life through the rituals of death. Directed by Takita Yojiro (When the Last Sword is Drawn
) follows the experiences of a young undertaker as he grows into his work. Backdropped by an elegant score from master composer Hisaishi Joe, Departures
presents a simple, yet poignant study of how one man comes to terms with his unconventional profession, and how the customs of death affect and reflect the course of life. At times humorous and at times heartbreaking, the film approaches its topic with respect and realism, revealing a fascinating aspect of Japanese culture rarely seen on screen. Leading man Motoki Masahiro (Gemini
) anchors the film with a magnificent, understated performance. Co-starring popular actress Hirosue Ryoko (Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust
) and veteran Yamazaki Tsutomu, Departures
swept 10 awards at the 32nd Japan Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress.
Out of work with nowhere to go, cellist Kobayashi Daigo (Motoki Masahiro) and his wife (Hirosue Ryoko) leave Tokyo and move back to his sleepy hometown. Daigo answers a help-wanted ad for what he thinks is a travel agency, but turns out to be an encoffinment agency. Taking the job anyway, he begins a new life as an encoffinment specialist under grisly owner Sasaki (Yamazaki Tsutomu). Despite his initial fears and misgivings about cleansing and clothing corpses, Daigo soon discovers the job and the town suit him just fine. Carefully preparing the departed for their final journey with a musician's precision, he finds a greater appreciation and understanding for life. The stigma of the profession, however, is not lost on his wife, and his choice of work gradually takes toll on their marriage.