Winner of the 2008 Oscar for Best Foreign Picture, Departures is director Yojiro Takita's emotionally rich story about Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), a world-class cellist who moves with his wife to his northern Japanese hometown when the symphony he plays for goes bankrupt.
Intent on finding quick employment, Daigo takes an unconventional job in “departures,” in which he assists with a regional mourning practice called “encoffinments,” wherein a body is discreetly cleaned, groomed and casketed for cremation in a stylized ceremony before the family of the deceased.
Daigo keeps his new occupation a secret from his wife for as long as possible, until the inevitable revelation threatens to undo the couple's marriage.
Departures is a brilliantly written and performed story that transcends its themes of ritualized catharsis to bring the audience to a fresh understanding of man's need to make peace with the deceased. Grade: A
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