As i am writing this post, it is drafted/done entirely live and immediately just after i came back from the Cinemas. Considering my usual pace of posting (Hello AFA 2008 day 2?!) on my site, it says something about this movie when i am doing such a ‘speedy’ post.
This will be my second movie review with the first being Star Trek 2009. I’m not entirely sure if i would be doing this on a regular basis, most likely not, however there are just some of these really damn good movie that I’d really like to share it to as many people as i possible could, so expect more of these to come in the future. Feedbacks of my writeups are greatly appreciated ^^
Ok moving on – regarding this movie, typically i wouldn’t pay much attention to “3D” Japanese productions as they usually aren’t as good as say, their “2D” anime counterparts. This is not to say that their J-Dorama are bad, but that is entirely another subject.
So we have this Japanese film festival thingy going on at Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC, not to be confused with GoodSmile Company) Malaysia recently, and as mentioned, since it did not show any Anime, i sorta brush it off unlike the previous Japanese film festival that showed Tokikake aka Toki wo Kakeri Shoujo aka The Girl Who Leapt Through Time which myself and my family enjoyed together in the cinemas although myself and my sisters already watched it on the computer before. However, out of random, my mom just said she wanted to watch Departures after reading some review from the newspapers/seeing the advertisement from TV, and she seemed pretty serious in watching this movie which is rather rare (in fact may be a first time).
So to cut to the chase, we end up watching it, and my review will follow shortly after a brief introduction
Seemed like a really big deal movie in 2008, which SOMEHOW slipped by my radar. Won many many awards including an Academy award for best foreign language movie on 2008 during the 81st Academy awards (again, which i never knew until i looked up infos of the movie), and received many MANY positive reviews about it.
The story involves the main character (Daigo Kobayashi, played by Masahiro Motoki) losing his job at the orchestra as a Cello player, and ended up being an “Undertaker” (his role is more of “beautification”, or rather “restoration” of the deceased for their final “Departure”).
Just like my previous Star Trek review, i will try my best to stay away from spoilers, however, being a *heavily* plot/storyline based movie, it can be difficult. So consider yourself warned, and if you’re spoiler sensitive, DO watch the movie first 🙂
And to start – just like many of you who probably expect a moody drama movie, (considering its 2 hour+ length) and it basically involving many dealings with corpses, i didn’t had much expectations for this as im not really one who fancy long winded J-Dorama, at least not on the big screen. But what do you know, right off the bat im greeted with extreme HUMOR in a supposedly moody movie involving funerals and dead people. The only thing ill say for this is “thingy” 😉 Or if you’re familiar with most Japanese anime and/or Otaku culture – “trap”. It totally got the entire cinema breaking out in laughter.
As my basic intro mentioned, Daigo Kobayashi (played by Masahiro Motoki) is a Cello player, that just landed a job with an Orchestra, which unfortunately (or fortunately heh!) disbanded, and he had to get another job, which he found from an advertisement. Little did he know, it was a job dealing with the deceased, and boy did it went down hill FAST from then on, until he finally “accepted” and from a different perspective, how “great” such a job can be.
Of course, this being a drama, it certainly would not escape some sobs and i am certainly prepared for it. If you’ve known me, you would know damn well that I’m not one for shedding tears over shows. Hell, I’m a person that attended over 10-11? funerals of my family and relatives or even people i barely know, which also include even my own grandmother’s funeral, and I’ve never shed any tears at all. (don’t get me wrong, my grandmother was very dear to me and losing her was very saddening) So considering this, I’m almost certain that it would be the same over characters that I’ve barely known for mere Minutes, or Hour(s).
I was so proven wrong with 2 particular scenes that got me in tears. Its like all of a sudden, without myself even realizing, till i noticed my cheeks being wet and eventually dripping down to my neck. Before i even realized, during those 2 scenes (and a couple more), you can hear sniff/sob sounds across the cinema. It was just emotional. For me, the 2 scenes would be the cremation part (i decided to keep this one a little vague, so it wont be a potential spoiler, however, as you watch the movie, it will be very obvious), and the ending, “last” service by Daigo (this is not to be confused with the “demonstration” performed during the ending credits).
Lastly, be SURE to stay through the credits. As the BGM is just wonderful, and it shows how the ceremony (preparing the deceased body) is done in detail 🙂
Now, as for the individual actors, Daigo Kobayashi (played by Masahiro Motoki) was just, incredible. His facial expressions, is almost as awesome a character that you tend to find in Japanese Animes. Amongst my favorites were the one where he just finished his first job, and went totally emo about it LOL. Not to mention Masahiro Motoki won NUMEROUS international AND domestic awards, which was very well given.
The lead actress, being Ryoko Hirosue, playing Mika Kobayashi – Daigo’s wife, was well, awesomely cute 😛 I’m probably going to be biased being a guy and all, however considering her age of almost 30, looking almost teenager like, being cheerful and everything throughout the movie, is just, very heartwarming. (or should i say “Moe“? :P) Oh, if you’re interested: http://www.ryoko-hirosue.org/
The rest… hmm well, generally old folks >_<, so not much to say. Well, Tsutomu Yamazaki playing as Shōei Sasaki, President of NK Agency was really funny and definitely kept the audience entertained 🙂
The director of this wonderful movie is Yojiro Takita, and… quite frankly i don’t know much about him aside from directing this wonderful movie >_< Also lets not leave out the writer: Kundo Koyama, sadly, as with the director, i also don’t know much about him, but the story was really REALLY well written, and well paced out. Despite being a LONG 2+ hour drama-on-a-big-screen, there was never a boring moment, and it has a good balance of sentimental moments, as well as a lot of humor.
And now, for the musical composer – Joe Hisaishi. This guy’s just… brilliant, wonderful. I just cant find words to really describe how wonderful of a job he did in the movie. And only after looking up his profile i realized why – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Hisaishi Composer for hit anime such as Spirited Away, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and ugh, god, this legend’s list is just… too damn long for me to list down. Just go to his wiki page, and you’ll immediately understand >_< IMO, it his his music, that really struck my emotional cords with the violin/cello heavy plays. Without it, i think there wouldnt’ve any tears being shed at all. Much applause to Joe-san.
The ending? Very very touching. That is all i will say.
Conclusion: Its been a very long while since I’ve watched a movie that has such quality storyline/plot, music, and the emotions involved, so yeah, it is VERY highly recommended. Go watch it if its available in ur area. For Malaysian folks, you may watch it at GSC Mid Valley as they still have Departures on international language screening.
I am going to give it a 10 out of 10, as i can’t possibly find any flaws for this movie.
And this ends my review for Departures, hope you enjoy it.