Finally managed to catch Departures 🙂 A bitter sweet Japanese film that managed to catch the hearts of the voters for the Academy Awards. I can see why too.
What would a cellist do when he has no orchestra to play in? In Japan, you go back to your hometown, learn to become an embalmer and hopefully learn to forgive. Nothing as irreverent as Six Feet Under, it has all the subtle nuances that only Japanese storytelling can do without being contrive. That said, it was typical of most Japanese tales so it was predictable. Nonetheless, I’m completely enamoured with the Japanese last rites of preparing the body.
The film took what could possibly be the most depressing ritual in Japanese culture and made it one of the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever encountered. According to the film, the embalmers prepare the body in front of the family and it is done with such love, respect and sweetness that J and I wished such a service was available in Singapore so we could request for it when we depart too. On a deeper level, the film explored the issue of death and life in somewhat typical manners. The standard don’t- take-things-for-granted-while-you-have-them takeaways are there, as well as the proverbial lesson of never judging the book by its cover. Like I said though, it wasn’t too contrive and worked with the humourous moments without which may have been a tad difficult to watch. So all in all, good vote from the Academy and if you don’t manage to catch it on the big screens, just make sure you get the DVD when it’s out.