Quantcast

Departures

Search Movies

Japan’s Oscar-winner for foreign film is without apology in the sentimental mode, a classification now out of fashion if never (secretly) out of favor. Directed by the veteran Yojiro Takita, it tells of a laid-off cellist, self-admittedly second-rate, who returns from Tokyo to his hometown and answers an ambiguously worded want ad — “working with departures” — expecting something like a travel agency and finding instead an “encoffining” service, preparing corpses for burial in front of an audience of their survivors: “It’s a niche market.” The vocation, though taken to with initial distaste, turns out to be a tailor-made cinematic spectacle — a testament to the Japanese capacity to transform a chore into a ritual and an art — and the little drolleries of the awkward early stages do not prepare us for such breathless high points as the first time we see the old master at work on a body or the first time the squeamish wife sees her husband, the new apprentice, at the same work. If, especially in those early stages, the apprentice is a bit overacted by Masahiro Motoki, a bit pop-eyed and drop-jawed, he is more than made up for by the restraint, the repose, the composure of his master, Tsutomu Yamazaki, a face familiar from the works of Juzo Itami, The Funeral, Tampopo, A Taxing Woman. The emotional effect might have been more powerful, or at least met with less resistance, without the syrupy background music. But that’s just part of the all-over lack of apology. Manipulation the film may be, but deft manipulation. (2008) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated PG-13 | 2 hours, 11 minutes
Official Website

Showtimes

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments
1

This is more about the living who deal with abandonment than a meditation on death. Very well paced, with a mix of humor, loss and excellent performances all around. The director's experience in pinku eiga provides a fresh honesty in dealing with subjects and a profession that are still socially uncomfortable for many. Tampopo fans may be inadvertently amused by the sight of Yamazaki gazing thoughtfully upon the departed, as the same reverence seems reserved for ramen.

June 5, 2009

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close