I had no idea what to expect when arriving at the theater... I had been invited as part of local indi film group and had the vague notion that it might be a foreign film. Other than that, I went in ignorant.
And left enlightened and moved.
The film (Japanese with English subtitles) is about a young man who learns the true value of life and death while he struggles to hold on to what is dear and let go of the past that haunts him. He has given up his dreams of being a master at the cello and moved back to his village with his wife. Desperate for a job he answers a want ad that says something vague about “Departures” but it isn’t a travel agency job… instead it is preparing the bodies of the dead for cremation.
Along the way, the audience watches as he struggles to tell his wife about his “shameful” job, while dealing with his own feelings of bitterness toward a father who abandoned him as a child. The movie is set is some of Japan’s most beautiful countryside and with haunting cello performances and stirring cinematography, the entire journey flows seamlessly.
It is little wonder that the movie won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I highly anticipate showing it to friends and family… and owning the soundtrack as soon as I can find it.
It is still playing in limited places and for limited times… I highly recommend that you seek it out and prepare yourself for a wonderful story that weaves together romance, humor, and solemn beauty to tell a story that touches us all.