THE GIFT OF LAST MEMORIES.
When Tokyo cellist Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) loses his job, he and his wife (Ryoko Hirosue) move back to his hometown where he takes a controversial job as a mortician. A film that introduces the old Japanese tradition of “nôkan” to the world, a ceremony where morticians ritually dress and prepare the body of a deceased in front of the departed’s family; those scenes in the film are often fascinating and moving. The fact that this film won an Oscar comes as no surprise; it’s an appealing story with an emotional music score and a clear narrative that doesn’t let itself become too burdened by its earnest themes. Thoughts on modern society’s relationship with death are however taken seriously.
2008-Japan. 131 min. Color. Produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa, Ichiro Nobukuni, Toshihisa Watai. Directed by Yojiro Takita. Screenplay: Kundo Koyama. Music: Joe Hisaishi. Cast: Masahiro Motoki (Daigo Kobayashi), Tsutomu Yamazaki (Ikuei Sasaki), Ryoko Hirosue (Mika Kobayashi), Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Kimiko Yo, Takashi Sasano.
Trivia: Original title: Okuribito.
Oscar: Best Foreign Language Film.
Last word: “I think the serious and the humor go hand in hand. The more earnest you are, the funnier it is from a different angle. It’s a nice combination without intentionally trying to make the audience laugh. You want to elicit organic humor. […] It’s a delicate decision that only an audience can decide. We had an internal discussion. We decided that if there is humor, we should make it explicit. If not, keep it simple and clear.” (Takita, Huffington Post)