Departures (2008) by Yujiro Takita
Posted by celticman on Thu, 04 Aug 2011
Oscar winner for best foreign film 2009. Masahiro Motoki is the first link in what is perfection. He is cast as a cellist, Daigo Kobashaki, who achieves his life long ambition to play in an orchestra in big town Tokyo. Just as suddenly as success is grasped then it and the orchestra are dissolved. He is left with the realization that as a musician he is at best mediocre and he can no longer afford the 40 million yen that he has paid for his instrument. In effect, the instrument is worth more than he is. He sells the cello and his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) agrees to move back to the house his mother has left him in Sakata, Yamengata, because at least they’ll save on rent.
‘Fate,’ argues new boss Sasaki (Tsutomo Yamazaki) who runs a mortuary company is what brought him to ‘departures’ and it is fate that keeps him there, even when his wife leaves. But running through the whole piece like quartz through rock is that Daigo has found his calling. The dignity that he brings to the dead on their departure is a complex dance where even the wrong steps are made to be right by his innate knowingness. This brings his wife back when she sees how he treats an old friend’s mother that has died. Every note sparkles and shines. The representation of a different kind of rock, to represent how a person feels, from preliterate man, is played out beautifully in the denouement when he has to bury his father, a face he cannot and does not want to remember. Perfect ending. Perfect film.