I just came from a screening of Departures, and Kris Tapley‘s 2.21 assessment of this film was definitely a bit kind. It’s a “sensitive,” curiously comedic at times, sometimes affecting, often cloying and very “middle class” film about transitions and coming to terms with death (and with your dead dad who abandoned you as a child) and feeling the sadness and showing the respect. There are moments when you don’t feel a strenuous, pull-out-the-stops effort by director Yojiro Takitato to emotionally “get” you, but they are few. A movie that makes you feel the effort and hear the grinding gears as much as this one does is in trouble from the get-go.
It certainly was with me minutes after it began. It’s a nice kindly movie in some respects, one that says the right things about life, identity, love, family and the end of life, but in no way is it an Oscar calibre thing, much less an Oscar winning one. It does some things affectingly, yes, but it’s mainly and primarily a second-tier, tonally erratic, touch-feely Japanese James L. Brooks movie with a gimmick (i.e., the Japanese custom of preparing the dead and paying final respects in a gentle way) that is used over and over and over and over. And I’m sorry but Scott Feinberg was wrong, wrong, wildly WRONG for saying in an HE talkback comment Departures deserved the Best Picture Oscar over Waltz With Bashir and The Class.