Departures review

It’s taken a while for this year’s surprise winner of Best Foreign Language Oscar to hit UK screens but, as it turns out, the real surprise is that the win was well deserved, even up against the likes of Waltz With Bashir and Cannes’ Golden Palm winner The Class.

Not being overly-familiar with Japanese film, it at least appears that Western audiences are responding well to tales of difficulties with some Japanese cultural traditions, with Tokyo Sonata being another well made film reaching this side of the world and gaining some attention this year. The insight Departures gives in to attitudes to death and dealing with death are fascinating but it is the deeper, more general tale of the human condition that makes the film such a success.

The themes of life and death are deep but unpretentious and the characters are well defined and even quirky. Although the subject of the film can be quite dark there is plenty of humour and the story, containing strong, interesting subplots, is captivating and very moving.

4 out of 5

20th Dec 2009 | Official site | On IMDb