When the Academy Award winners were announced earlier this year, many people predicted that Waltz with Bashir (Vals im Bashir) would win the Best Foreign Language Film. It was beaten by a Japanese film called Okuribito (Departures). I had been wondering about this movie since then – so when a mail with an advanced screening ticket for two arrived on Friday, I was overjoyed!
The premise of the story is simple – Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a cellist in an orchestra. When the orchestra is dissolved, he decides to return to his hometown in Yamagata, with his wife. Answering an advertisement on the local paper, he incorrectly thinks that the job is for a travel bureau as it mentions about ‘Departures’. However, the company actually arranges the ceremonial cleansing and dressing of recently departed people.When his wife, Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) learns about his job, she wants him to get a proper job … so what will Daigo do?
I laughed, I cringed, I shed a tear or two during the movie. It can be slow and melodramatic in some parts, but oh it’s so beautiful that it slowly drags you into the story. Masahiro plays the character so well that every emotion that he portrays in the movie seems so natural, sincere and believable. The scenes when he prepares the corpse are so beautiful, so ‘precise’, so respectful. The filial piety scene at the end of ‘Departures’ is typical of sentimental Asian movies, but it is still very touching. It left me speechless even after I got out of the cinema.
The music in the movie, apparently composed by Joe Hisaishi is so beautiful – it complements the movie perfectly. As I’m writing this review, I’m playing the soundtrack of the movie that I found in Youtube. It brings me back to the scenes and takes my breath away again … Cello does that to me.
Okuribito is my favourite movie of 2009.