DVD - 2009 | Japanese
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Daigo Kobayashi is a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and finds himself without a job. He decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled 'Departures' thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency. He discovers that the job is actually for a 'Nokanshi' or 'encoffineer,' a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art, acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed.


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Dec 08, 2020

How did they create this gem??? It continues to amaze me the level of genius that surrounds us.

It is brilliant, moving, inspirational, emotional and truly lovely. It could not have been better and is on the top of my all time favourite list now!

Aug 30, 2020

This is an amazing movie! I own my own DVD copy, and have watched this many times. I lived in Japan, and it reminded me of my life there. The cinematography is spectacular, and you really grow to care about these characters as the story unfolds. The story is touching, complex, and heart-felt. I highly recommend this film.

Oct 12, 2019

What a powerful movie; although at times a bit unsettling. A professional musician, after his orchestra is dissolved, haphazardly transitions to the occupation of burial preparation - - something historically looked down upon throughout various cultures and societies.
The esthetic, spiritual and emotional nuances of this rite of final passage are most moving as portrayed in this remarkable film - - easy to see why this is considered a recent classic in Japan.

Mar 17, 2019

Many Japanese movies have an oblique way of looking at culture and this movie is no exception. The story involves a young man who returns to his natal city and finds an unconventional job, preparing the dead for their trip into the afterlife. There is, of course, a stigma attached to this work, and he does not even tell his wife what he does to make a living, as conventional society sees this job as disgraceful.

This film does much to dispel this notion and demonstrate a level of respect given to the deceased. It also shows how a person in death still has an impact on the community in which they live.

mko123 Feb 16, 2019

This is a beautiful, profound and emotionally absorbing film about a young musician, suddenly out of work, and happening upon a job as embalmer for funerals. Ashamed at first of what he does for a living, his new-found profession enables him to come full circle with some open wounds in his past. This film is a meditation on the mysterious connections we all have but don't necessarily always see. I loved this film.

Nov 13, 2018

Damn! I should have known better. Although 5 stars from Roger Egbert (From legendary reviewers Cisco & Egbert) can mean anything; the addition of the Academy award for best foreign film means cretinous claptrap.
Masahiro Motoki has two acting modes - open mouthed amazement and glum seriousness, while his sub-teenage bride, Mika (Riyoko Hirosue) just looks and acts more childlike than the average 6 year old.
So, they can make dead bodies look real purty and make the deceased relatives gush gallons of tears, so what? The real goodness doesn't start until Daigo (Motoki) pulls out his kiddie's cello and starts performing in the middle of open fields. There is lots of rock significance, more saccharine music on the soundtrack and .... Daigo gets to do up his hated old man. Yow!

Aug 28, 2018

A beautiful poignant movie. "Departures" is the type of movie you want to share with others and this was the reason I chose it for my foreign film group. Everyone said it was now one of their favorite top 10 movies.

Jul 20, 2018

This is an unusual, very sweet and touching comedy/drama. A young man takes on a job which turns out to be assisting a man who prepares bodies for burial. At first he is disgusted and embarrassed to be involved, and it causes conflicts in his home; but eventually he comes to respect his mentor's way of using his trade to assist grieving families, and finally to appreciate the beauty and value of the work.

Jul 11, 2018

Directed by Yōjirō Takita in 2008 loosely based on "Coffinman"---a memoir by Shinmon Aoki, this Japanese drama depicts the life of a young man who returns to his hometown after a failed career as a cellist and stumbles across work as a nōkanshi—a traditional Japanese ritual mortician.
Despite Japanese prejudices against those who handle the dead, the film appears profoundly touching the heart of the viewer with a heartwarming ending.
Although I don't like its predictability and overt sentimentality, I admire its humour, the beauty of the encoffining ceremony, and the quality of the acting.

Apr 22, 2018

interesting factoid, the actor who portrays the main character was formerly in a very popular boy band. this is a lovely movie about a profession that I've never of happening anywhere, perhaps in the rural outskirts?

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nadian Jan 13, 2010

nadian thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Apr 15, 2016

From IMDb:

Yamashita: People are talking.
Daigo Kobayashi: About what?
Yamashita: Get yourself a proper job!
Daigo Kobayashi: Long ago, before writing, you'd send someone a stone that suited the way you were feeling. From its weight and touch, they'd know how you felt. From a smooth stone they might get that you were happy, or from a rough one that you were worried about them.


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