Departures (2009) – Yôjirô Takita

Magnificent Japanese drama about a cellist in a failed symphony who moves back into his childhood home after it has been willed to him by his recently deceased mother. He answers a help wanted ad that he believes is for a travel agency but turns out to be a company that prepares corpses for cremation, a funny mix-up that is actually believable. This process is beautiful and therapeutic for the relatives of the departed but the profession is undesirable socially and the man keeps his new job a secret from his wife. Japanese cinema has more than a few entries that are respectful and beautiful on the subject of death and Departures is another one, creating empathy both in its subject and its audience. Funny at times, terribly poignant for most of it’s 130 minute running time, Departures was considered an upset when it won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars over such fare as The Class and Waltz with Bashir, but the movie is worthy, and more than that, an all-timer.

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