Thanks for your advice. I already put the spoiler warning in the beginning.
!Spoiler inside. I assume you have watched this movie so there are some details written here. Don't read this comments after the sign ***** if you don't want to know!
Departures is a Japanese movie I've just watched. I didn't expect much from this movie coz sometimes japanese movie can get long winded. I pretty much watched it just because I saw that it won Oscar for foreign film. Well, after watching it, I have to revise my opinion. This movie is awesome!
Departures is about this guy Daigo Kobayashi who went back to his hometown after his failure to become profesional cellist. When he looked for a job in the newspaper, he saw a job advertisement with the title 'departure' which did not specify any job skill or requirement. Well as whatever that sound too good to be true, it is really too good to be true. This job advertisement is actually for encoffinement job (corpse washer). There was typing error in the newspaper, it should be "the departed" instead of 'departure'. And so this started Daigo's job as corpse washer.
This movie introduced the tradition of washing the corpse in Japanese culture. The ritual including washing, clothing and putting make up on the body was done in front of the grieving family members. Through Daigo's eyes, the audience also become a witness of the family's grief, anger, secrets, and even joy. This movie takes you to a journey that sometimes makes you laugh, cry or even both at the same time. With its comfortable pace, this is the kind of movie where you should just lay back and enjoy the story unfold. Typical of Japanese culture, this movie is also full of symbolism, silence, and body language. Relax when you watch this movie and pay attention to every smallest details so that you can catch the message. I suggested to you all to try this movie.
Acting wise, I have to say all of the actors did quite a great job even the most minor character. I like the boss especially.
It's also to be noted that Japanese people regard a person who did this kind of job as 'dirty' and 'lowest of the low'. This is because the person deals with corpse and will only have a job due to other people's misfortune (death).
Saying all this good review, doesn't mean this movie doesn't have its own shortcomings. I have some difficulties to accept Daigo's wife character. She was portrayed as this wife who is so supportive and so sensitive of her husband's feelings and needs. She sacrificed her job, moved to this little town, and becoming a housewife without complain. (Of course later, we found out that she had her own limit and a disagreement happened) It's just such a typical eastern wife character that from all the characters I found her the most uninteresting.
I also has some issue about the ending. I am not so sure whether I like it or hate it. But I understand why they make it like that. You see this movie is the type where you laid back and enjoy the story because it flows so smoothly. There are also many symbolism/ body language happened where no actual speech was done to describe it. The ending is also feels like it just flows that I didn't realize it ended. No big bang. No concluding words. Only gestures and body language to show about the forgiveness given and hope for the future. For me, it doesn't feel to have enough impact to close such a great movie.
Overall, this movie is great and it really deserve the award. It really is a feat to make corpse washing looks likes a beautiful art. It was like a dance. Efficient, respectful,and dignified. It looks beautiful because the body was treated not only as a body but respectfully treated as someone who was loved and alive at some point of time.