Departures (2008)

YOJIRO TAKITA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

Original title:  Okuribito

Japan, 2008.  Amuse Soft Entertainment, Asahi Shimbun, Dentsu, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Sedic, Shochiku Company, Shogakukan, TBS Radio & Communications, Tokyo Broadcasting System.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

After a successful run as a cellist with a symphony orchestra, Daigo is laid off when the dwindling audiences can no longer be ignored. He moves back to his home town with his wife and accepts the only job he can get, working in a funeral home and helping prepare bodies for burial. Working at something that is so unappealing and taboo is difficult to get over, but once he does, Daigo realizes that he is actually providing a service to those who have lost their loved ones, and it helps him get in touch with his own home relationship and the lives of those around him. This sweet, melancholy film is the sort of audience heartwarmer that does nothing extraordinary but touches all the right buttons. It isn’t particularly perceptive, controversial or illuminating, it’s just cozy in the most appropriate ways, and will be appreciated by those who are looking for just that. Winner of the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film, the first film from Japan to do so since the category became competitive.

Academy Award:  Best Foreign Language Film

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