This Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-winner played here briefly in 2009, and is being shown as part of the Foreign Film Festival sponsored by Hendersonville Sister Cities, Inc. When the film played here, I wrote: “Departures is a good deal more complex than it might at first seem. There’s much going on beneath the surface here—from the way we approach death to the way we approach what life throws at us. It could be said to be a film in which death is used to teach the characters about life, and that would be a fair assessment, but it’s one that would give a false impression of the film. This is essentially a character piece with a clever blend of comedy and drama (with the line between the two often indistinct). The performances have much to do with why the film works. It’s as much a movie as it is a film—if you understand the distinction. The characters tend more or less to do what we expect, and the story follows a far-from-unpredictable arc. The last scenes could be described as manipulative and soapy. Maybe they are, but it’s because Departures remembers to be an effective entertainment at all times that you really ought to give this Japanese import a chance.” Full review is here: http://www.mountainx.com/movies/review/departures
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