A Japanese Oscar nominated piece, centred around the main protagonist (Daigo Kobayashi played by Masahiro Motoki) entering a new chapter of his life as his lifelong dream of being a professional cellist comes to an end. His story begins as he and his wife relocate back to his childhood town, staying in a family café his deceased mother has left them. As in many Japanese films, family is a large factor. Daigo’s father is absent in his upbringing which has deeply affected him and placed great importance on raising a family with his supportive wife.
Soon after the relocation, Kobayashi finds work and thus meets an important father figure. Interesting characters from the small local community contribute to familial feel of the film, a mother-like figure is acquired through the sweet old woman at the bath house. Simple scenes are used to show the happiness of the characters, their relaxation with each other and their quiet surroundings. Director, Yōjirō Takita, does well in including the viewer to feel as relaxed as the characters when they quietly eat together.
Taking a leaf out of other family focused Japanese films, you could say Departures is a child of Tokyo Story. I very much enjoyed it. I have purposefully left out details of the plot as the film feels like an experience and you can visibly see the main protagonist, his wife, and their relationship grow. Wonderfully acted and unashamedly unique. I would recommend this to anyone who hasn’t seen it.