Subscriber-only title: Departures 2008 / An elegant and sentimental film about a reluctant cellist becoming a mortician.

9.0

In 2009, Departures surprised everybody by winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, instead of everyone’s favourite, Ari Folman’s Waltz of Bashir. This is even more surprising since this Japanese comedy almost never saw the light of day because many distributors refused to release it at first for its humorous treatment of a very human, but weirdly taboo subject: what happens when you die. Daigo Kobayashi (played by former boyband member Masahiro Motoki) just bought an expensive cello when he learns that his Tokyo-based symphony orchestra is going bankrupt. Daigo and his wife Mika, played by Ryôko Hirosue, decide to move back to his hometown, where he applies for an opening at what he thinks is a travel agency, hence the departures. You might have guessed by now that what he was applying for was, in fact, the job of an undertaker—a profession considered unclean in Japan. It’s one of those rare movies that will make you laugh, to making you cry, and laugh again. It’s dead-on!

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    Sharron

    My husband and I stumbled on to this treasure--love, life and death treated with care and subtle humor. An absolute surprise and one of our favorite foreign films. 3 people liked this review.

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    Pat

    I saw Departures years ago and it overwhelmed me with the tender respect it gave such taboo subject. One of my all time favorites. 1 person liked this review.

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