Departures (12A)

People are already speculating about the 2010 Oscars, so it's a minor scandal that it's taken this long for 2009's Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film to be released in the UK. But don't be deterred by the late arrival of Departures. This heartfelt, unpretentious, slyly funny Japanese film is worth waiting for.

Its hero is a young man (Masahiro Motoki) who, having failed to make it as a cellist in Tokyo, retreats with his wife to his home town, where he replies to a vaguely worded job ad. He guesses that his prospective employer must be a travel agent, but after a one-question interview, he finds himself working in "encoffinment", the ritual washing and dressing of a corpse before its cremation.

And there aren't many more surprises. The hero's move from the city to the sticks recalls any number of cosy Sunday evening TV cocoa-accompaniments, from Doc Martin to Monarch of the Glen, and the encoffinment shown in the first scenes is so elegant and dignified that it's only a matter of time before everyone in the film comes to value the hero's unorthodox new profession. But if Departures is, at bottom, a sentimental tear-jerker, you'll have to be more cynical than I am to get through it without your tears being jerked.

News
Cate Blanchett at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she picked up the award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role
peopleWatch Cate Blanchett confront cameraman over red carpet sexism
Life & Style
tech
Sport
Sjinkie Knegt (R) of the Netherlands' team gestures next to Victor An (L) of the team of Russia celebrating after Russia won the men's 5000m relay final race of the ISU European Short Track speed skating Championships in Dresden, eastern Germany, on January 19, 2014. Russia won the race ahead of the Netherlands (2nd) and Germany.
sport

Sore loser Sjinkie Knegt has since been disqualified

Sport
Spain midfielder Juan Mata
sportChelsea prepared to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United for fee in excess of £40m
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Coasting it: Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in 'The Trip to Italy'
film
Arts & Entertainment
Damon Albarn of Blur will release his debut solo album on 28 April
music

Damon Albarn to headline BBC 6 Music festival in Manchester

News
@PaulGargan wrote on Twitter: 'Brilliant graffiti tribute to Roger Lloyd-Pack's 'Trigger' appeared over the weekend in Brighton'
peopleRoger Lloyd-Pack graffiti tributes spring up - one sparking criminal investigation
News
news
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
'The Act of Killing' documents the men responsible for the Communist Purges of 1960s Indonesia, mass executions in which more than one million people died
filmFear of reprisals from the subjects of this documentary mean co-director and crew remain unknown
Life & Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Mark Thomas and Becky Howe, both 23, are 'fuming' over their presentation in Benefits Street
tvBenefits Street ratings rise again for third episode
Arts & Entertainment
Lady Gaga hopes to perform in China after the country's government agreed to lift a ban on her music
arts + ents
News
Divine Brown and Hugh Grant
peopleThe journalist who interviewed star just before THAT arrest looks back on 'the greatest PR save of all time'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green
from £175prpn Find out more
santorini
Luxury Santorini holiday
from £539pp for seven nights Find out more
sardina foodie
Sardina foodie holiday
from £858pp for seven nights Find out more
Elephant Appeal get involved >

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ignore Gwyneth. Ignore Victoria. Why your new year diet WON'T WORK

    Why your fancy new year weight-loss regime won't work

    The 4:3? The 5:2? Or The Overnight? These new weight-loss regimes have just one thing in common
    Constructing the Atomium bomb: Jihadist threat to Belgian tourist attraction

    Jihadists construct the Atomium bomb

    YouTube video threat to Belgian tourist attraction
    Extreme weather 'could double over next 100 years'

    Extreme El Niño events could double over next 100 years

    Weather can bring flooding to one part of the world and catastrophic drought to another
    China falls in love with Sherlock

    China falls in love with Sherlock

    ‘People’s Daily’ calls TV show exquisite
    Her art belongs to Dada

    Her art belongs to Dada

    Anti-Nazi lesbian feminist artist Hannah Höch retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery
    ‘Too hot’ report on police leaks to media was buried as Leveson Inquiry ignored Met’s bombshell intelligence report

    ‘Too hot’ report on police leaks to media was buried

    Bombshell file on Met links to News International was dismissed by Leveson Inquiry
    Ukip tops Independent on Sunday poll as the nation’s favourite party

    Ukip tops IoS poll as the nation’s favourite party

    In a shock result for Cameron and Miliband, Farage’s ‘fruitcakes’ are in pole position
    Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’

    Allah vs atheism

    A growing number of Muslims are speaking out about losing their faith
    The untold story of the film Zulu starring Michael Caine, 50 years on

    The untold story of Zulu

    Narrative of the film is almost as remarkable as what it depicts
    Student politics: Where are all the activists? Making jokes in the bar

    Student politics: Where are all the activists? Making jokes in the bar

    Gone are the days when undergraduates protested and campaigned
    The secret to Hollywood’s future? Think big despite high-cost blockbuster flops such as 47 Ronin - on track to lose 'up to £106m'

    The secret to Hollywood’s future?

    Think big with A-list stars and massive spending
    Grime pays: He has a pension and worries about his mum - meet the ever-so sensible Tinie Tempah

    Grime pays: Meet the ever-so sensible Tinie Tempah

    The British rapper has a pension and worries about his mum - but what's with all the mucky lyrics on the new album?
    The number crunch: Will Big Data transform your life - or make it a misery?

    How Big Data could change our lives

    The public debate over the handling and exploitation of digital information on an astronomically large scale has been framed in stark terms
    'I knew in my heart she was alive': Families in El Salvador are finally reunited with children abducted during the country's civil war

    El Salvador families reunited with abducted children

    During the country's merciless 12-year civil war, hundreds of children were forcibly taken by the military and illegally put up for adoption, many overseas
    Mussel memory: Bill Granger brings sunny reminiscences of holidays past to the table with his spectacular seafood dishes

    Mussel memory: Bill Granger's spectacular seafood dishes

    Our chef brings sunny reminiscences of holidays past to the table