Departures – Movie – Review

Departures Poster

They all burn the same way, the last shopping of your life is done by others.


Departures is a story about honour and respect and a tribute to humans and life. Daigo is a passionate cellist playing in an orchestra, that has just been disbanded, and he now has no job. Daigo decides to go with his wife to his hometown to start a new chapter in his life. Daigo looks for a job and finds a position, helping people on their journey. He assumes the position is a travel agent, but soon realises the job is different than what he thought.

Native and/or alternative titles: おくりびと; Okuribito; One Who Sends Off
Year: 2008
Countries: Japan
Languages: Japanese
Genre: Drama, Slice of life
Director: Yojiro Takita
Writer: Kundo Koyama
Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki

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Death. The word itself brings up emotions like forlorn, sadness, grief, bitterness and maybe even hatred. But, this movie despite being about death is so beautiful and touching. It shows the how a person is readied for their journey after death. It shows the compassion and beauty of the one who sends them off – the mortician. Even though the lead actor (Daigo) came across this profession by accident, his boss’s instincts proved true that Daigo would make an amazing mortician. The entire process of how they prepared the body of the departed loved ones with such care, compassion and finesse were a testament to how much they respected and understood the concept of death. Many are against such professions and some might even consider such people disgusting and filthy for handling dead bodies. But I think this movie shows how wrong that type of thinking is, I for one would feel honoured to be handled to be handled by Daigo or his boss.

There were several parts where I got swept into a whirlpool of emotions and started crying as well. The part where Daigo broke down after seeing his first body and yet he did not give in and continued to learn the skills of a mortician was beyond words. Even when his wife left him, he did not give up on the death because he understood the kind of service he was providing not to the death but to the family of the dead. Even the assistance Kimiko was a memorable and lovable character that proved to be a great pillar of strength to Daigo and his boss. All the actors truly embraced their roles and became one with them.

There were a lot of lines which felt very deep and meaningful to me. They can really get someone thinking. I think one of my dialogue exchanges was between Kimiko and Daigo in the NK office. Daigo looks at the different coffins on displays and asks about it when Kimiko tells their prices which differ greatly only cause of the wood used and the decorations made on it. There are many more simple yet impactful lines in this film which are thought-provoking. The Kimiko says that,

They all burn the same way…… The last shopping of your life is done by others.

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About Poornima

A Korea-phile by nature~ Love everything Asian and originally from India. Fluent in Korean language and knows Chinese language as well. Has Masters in East Asian Studies (with special interest in Korean culture and politics)

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