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Daigo Kobayashi is a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and now finds himself without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled "Departures" thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of "Nokanshi," acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. Written by
"Okuribito", literally "The person who sees off", is about a supposedly untalented cellist's new job. After returning to hometown as a failure in the music world, he applies for a job with vague description. It turns out to be a job posting for "encoffiner", a person who performs rites and rituals before placing the body into the coffin. A 'tainted' job in the eyes of the society, but he eventually develops pride and purpose in this profession.
The movie started with subtle humor that had me chuckling for first hour, but I was slowly drawn into the story. It turned out to be a very touching and deep film.
The acting in this film was superb. Motoki Tomohiro's performance was especially amazing, hilarious at times, and played the serious and professional scenes very convincingly. I also really liked his narration, which really sets the mood and tone of the following scenes. Yamazaki Tsutomu was also excellent as the protagonist's cool mentor. The film had incredibly nice flow and very well-directed. Music in this movie played a huge role, expressing the protagonist's feelings and harmonized with every scene. It was simply beautiful.
This movie gave me a glimpse of the profession of "encoffiner", as a very respectable job, as it requires absolute accuracy, professionalism, and the respect for the dead even though it is looked down by the society. It is the encoffiner who sees off a person's last journey after dressing them up. This movie successfully depicts the pride in one's job, and questions the meaning of death.
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