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“Departures” is a Japanese film that won the “Best Foreign Film” award at the Oscars and came to me highly recommended from a friend. It’s currently at an 80% rating (really high) on Rotten Tomatoes and plenty lived up to the billing. Though there are still a few things that I am not connecting with in the movie and feel like it deserves another viewing, I want to give my initial thoughts and give this film some much deserved props.

This movie is unbelievably engrossing. It just pulls you in emotionally. How can a movie essentially about a man who takes a job preparing the dead for funerals be that interesting? Then add in the fact that unless you speak Japanese, you’ll be watching this movie in subtitles. Seriously? Yes. The characters are very good. Most of the scenes that just pierce your heart have barely any spoken words. The marriage is believable and intriguing. The resolve that you are waiting for definitely pays off.

There are 2 key parts to pay attention to in this film. First, once again, fathers are important. Daigo is haunted by this. There is a reason he is quirky and sometimes annoying and a bit passive, even taking into account the Japanese cultural influences (I lived in Japan for 6 years as a child). Second, let the funerals hit you. You will see a number of them. Let this piece of art hit you emotionally and do not fight it. I couldn’t help but be in tears for nearly all of them but I’m a little biased having lost my own father 9 years ago and having been to 2 funerals this year alone. Seeing the fathers/husbands in this movie break down just about crushed me multiple times. The consistent dealing with death in this movie kept me at such a stirred tension throughout almost the entire film. To me, this is a good thing because it felt so real. However, this is not a somber movie. Humor cuts throughout it and there is a hopeful feel. See it all in light of the Gospel but let yourself be immersed in the story.

“Departures” is certainly worth watching and is a well-made film! Give it a shot.

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