Departures (2008) 84/100 - An emotionally exhilarating film which showcases the ancient Japanese ritual of nōkan (encoffining), where a mortician prepares the body of a deceased relative, through a series of choreographed techniques in front of the family. This ceremony allows family members and friends to view the deceased one last time and to say their goodbyes. It is the nōkansha's duty to try and recreate, through cleansing and make up, what that person looked like in life, giving the family one last glimpse of the person that they shared their lives with. When the film is focused on these ceremonies, it is a moving and thought provoking process on death and how different families deal with the loss. But it also tends to dwell on scenes which don't really add much to the story and it has a few too many predictable twists in the storyline. But it's all worth viewing because of some of the strong, emotional scenes that take place in the homes of clients of NK Agency. In one scene, they arrive five minutes late for the beginning of the ceremony and the husband of the woman who has died, is visibly upset. But as Sasaki is preparing the body, which you can tell must have suffered through some sort of prolonged illness, for the make up adding part of the ceremony, he looks behind him at the picture of the smiling woman, radiantly alive before her illness, and he goes to work. The camera pans back and forth from the deceased, to Sasaki working, to the family members watching on. Slowly, methodically and with a tenderness which years of experience have mastered, Sasaki recreates her cold, lifeless face into a perfect replication of the picture behind him. The pain of loss flows from the family alongside a gratitude towards Sasaki for giving them one last moment with the woman, adorned in all her glory. One of the most beautiful moments I've ever experienced in a film. Had the rest of this film stayed on this path, I probably would have deemed it a masterpiece, but there's a useless montage of Daigo playing his cello in various outdoor locations, which kind of disturbs the rhythm of the film and to a degree, feels manipulative and cheesy.