Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Just watched: Departures
I cried. Mind you, I also cried at the last episode of Seigi no Mikata but I was in a funny mood that day. The two don't really compare.
This Oscar-winning film is famous enough already that you don't need my review to tell you if it's any good. But if you've never heard of it (or, more likely, forgotten about it – there's been a wait of over a year between it's Oscar-winning night and a PAL release on DVD) now's as good a time as any to catch up.
The story is about a failed cellist who moves out of Tokyo and becomes a – well, I'm not sure what the English equivalent is. The person who prepares the body before it's placed in the coffin. But he's not an undertaker: the film makes that very clear. Directed with a light touch by Takita Yojiro, he manages to find some nicely composed shots in the most formal situations. As a comedy, it works fine and as a reflection on the transience of life it's not too shabby either. Personally, the theme of the absent father struck a chord and is perhaps why it touched me as much as it did.
The acting is all superb with not a duff note to be seen. The main character's previous job as a cellist appears to be just an excuse to have him play the cello occasionally while a beautifully shot flashback or montage rolls past. But narrative devices aside, this story is told in a naturalistic style. Understated and underplayed. Perhaps a little sentimental but no worse for that.