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masahiro motoki

masahiro motoki

Departures part 1

2y ago


Film: Departures Directed by Yojiro Takita Japan (2008) Melodrama 14 parts/130 mins In Japanese with English subtitles (default) Please be sure to turn on the CC (closed captions) button to view subtitles Subtitles are translatable to any language and can be moved by clicking and dragging the subtitles. (Rated PG13 by MPAA for thematic material) Departures, which won the 2009 Oscar for best foreign film, is a mix of ambition and modesty, a graceful, sometimes comical work that has transparent designs on our emotions. Synopsis: Masahiro Motoki stars as Daigo, an out-of-work cellist who, crushed at the breakup of his Tokyo orchestra, retreats to his picturesque northern Japan hometown to find his true calling. His first bold, life-changing move is to become a Nokanshi; a professional who ritually washes and clothes bodies prior to the funeral. While this unusual change of career gives Daigo a new purpose in life, it creates conflict with his young wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) and others around him. Review: Some context is in order. In Japan, the job of Nokanshi is an unusual one, as working closely with death has the connotation of high regard. Here is what the director said about his goal: "I wanted to make a film from the perspective of a person who deals with something so universal and yet is looked down upon, and even discriminated against. Other than doctors, very few people have much to do with dead bodies, and it's not the kind of occupation or subject that often appears in movies. There's always a kind of dialogue between people who have passed away and the families that survive them, and that's part of what I wanted to focus on." Departures was shot on location in Yamagata prefecture from March to May during the changing of the seasons. It's noteworthy that most of Japan's rural regional areas are in decline, with people moving away and old ways being lost. But director Takita finds warmth and humanity despite the surrounding decay. Arguably, the film's most poignant scenes revolve around food, emphasizing the direct relationship between eating, living, and other kinds of desires. Though dealing with death and other dark themes, the overall approach is upbeat and the tone eccentric, based on the director's philosophy that "most humans are comical by nature." Although profound and, for that matter, profoundly moving in places, there is a playfulness to Takita's direction and Koyama finds plenty of deadpan humour in dealing with the dead. Never is this careful arrangement of romance, humour and desolation more evident than in a remarkable montage around two-thirds of the way through the film which manages to generate both laughter and tears within a short space. Mixing humour and sadness, thoughtfulness and levity within a single film is a tricky manoeuvre. Get the mix wrong and the comedy can sit like a unpalatable slick on the surface of more meaningful issues or, conversely, attempts at careful consideration can slip into mawkishness or, worse still, become laughable. Get the alchemy right, however, and this sort of tender and engaging cinema is the result.