Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Death is for the living and not for the dead so much.
That observation from the mourner of a dead dog in Errol Morris' "Gates of Heaven" strikes me as simple but profound. It is the insight inspiring "Departures," the lovely Japanese movie that won this year's Oscar for best foreign film.
The story involves a young man who apprentices to the trade of "encoffinment," the preparation of corpses before their cremation. As nearly as I can recall, there is no discussion of an afterlife. It is all about the living. There is an elaborate, tender ceremony carried out before the family and friends of the deceased, with an elegance and care that is rather fascinating.
The hero is a man who feels he is owed a death. The father of Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) walked out on his mother when the boy was 6 years old, and ever since Daigo has hated him for that abandonment. Now about 30, Daigo is a cellist in a small classical orchestra that goes broke. He and Mika (Ryoko Hirosue), his wife, decide to move back to a town in the north of Japan and live in his childhood home, willed to him by his recently departed mother. He finds no work. He answers a want ad for "departures," which he thinks perhaps is from a travel agency.