Monday, June 01, 2009

Okuribito (Departures)

The 2009 Oscar winner in the Foreign Language Film of the Year category is a beautiful to watch film with a very compelling serene story about the rituals of death and the rituals of life –the last at least for one character that founds what he’s really good at and closes one life circle only to open the next. Really Beautiful film and story!

The film totally “plays” with your emotions as you will be able to laugh a little, shred a little tear or two in many scenes (maybe cry a lot at the end) and truly enjoy the not so dramatic drama done with the great Japanese cinema style that in my opinion respects the viewer and most of all respects the story that is telling, no matter the theme.

As many of us know the film tells the story of Kobayashi that leaves Tokyo after the orchestra where he played the cello was disbanded. Not only gives up professionally playing the cello but leaves Tokyo to his childhood town where his mother left him a house. As Kobayashi and his young wife arrive to the very picturesque village, he takes the task of finding a job and without knowing what he’s getting into, he finds the job that will fulfill his life forever. He found his destiny. I know I’m telling a lot about the story, but this is the kind of film that you have to watch for the journey, more than for the destination.

This Yôjirô Takita film has excellent production values; most remarkable is the spectacular outdoor cinematography. But is with the indoor scenes where cinematography is the greatest not only for production values, but especially for the incredibly beautiful rituals of death that are portrayed. I know that to our western culture mind and eyes, death and beautiful are not two words that we can imagine -and much less use- together. But you have no idea how the two words fit together in this film, just as the Ying fits the Yang. Truly Beautiful!

Performances by all actors are outstanding with Masahiro Motoki really shining with a truly heart felt performance of his character Kobayashi; but is Tsutomu Yamazaki who steals the scenes with a remarkable performance as the eccentric and deadpan boss.

The film has been collecting major honors in awards and festivals around the world, including the mentioned Oscar and overwhelming winning ten awards at the 2009 Japanese Academy Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor to Motoki and Best Supporting Actor to Yamazaki.

Before watching this film, my favorite from the five nominated for the Academy Award was Waltz With Bashir; but now I totally understand why this film got the award and in my opinion is absolutely well deserved as it is an incredibly good cinematic experience that none of the other five nominees had. This tells me that the new voting system the Academy put in place works a lot better than the 2008 fiasco, so I hope they keep it in the future.

I love the movie and is one that I know I’ll watch more than once, as is a movie that touches life so amazingly well and so peacefully, even when what you see in the screen is more related to death; thus making the film an extraordinary ying-yang (complementary opposites) experience for the western viewer.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

No comments yet