Departures will make you laugh, smile and cry. The emotional rollercoaster never lets up.
Departures is directed by Peter Hutchings (The Outcasts), stars Asa Butterfield (Sex Education), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) and Nina Dobrev (Fam) and is an adventure comedy about living life to the fullest. It may also be known as Then Came You.
Departures follows hypochondriac luggage handler Calvin (Butterfield), who starts attending cancer support groups, where he meets British teenager Skye (Williams) who decides to take him under her wing. The two make an unlikely friendship as they work together to help Skye complete her “To Die List”, which will see her help Calvin come out of his shell to make the most of his own life.
Departures uses the story to show a victim of cancer turning around and deciding they want to make the most of their remaining time; the story does let us know in the opening sequence that Skye isn’t going to recover and her reaction sums up her character perfectly. Her friendship with Calvin sees how he becomes much more open, moving away from his hypochondriac state, which has held him back in his life, not allowing him to live it to his potential. With the unlikely friendship in play we see how the two have found a supportive figure in their life, one that will push them in different directions to the family they are used to working with. The tone of the story can be compared to Me, Earl & the Dying Girl and even The Fault in Our Stars, because it shows us how a teenager is dealing with death through how her friends, family, and other loved ones react to her. The story will tug on the heartstrings, there isn’t a question about that, but it is one that will also make you smile.
The acting in Departures has Asa Butterfield in the leading role. He has done a couple of teenage leads over the last few years and this could well be his best performance to date; to see how he goes from the quiet, shy teenager to the understanding of freedom is a joy to watch. Maisie Williams, everyone’s favourite Stark, shines in a role that lets us see an innocent side to her skills, but she does bring all the energy to this role while also bringing the big moments of emotional impact through her reactions, showing us the true level of fear her character is masking. Nina Dobrev, Ken Jeong, Tyler Hoechlin and David Koechner all get a moment in the film where their character does make a big impact, which is needed, and they all get to shine in that moment.
Departures uses the adventure comedy genres by showing how Calvin was hiding from the world, but when it gets opened up, he can learn to treat life as an adventure, to enjoy himself. As for the comedy, it brings back the debate: can films about cancer use comedy? 50/50 did and was fantastic, and Funny People was one of Adam Sandler’s best modern films using the same subject. Departures might not be a full-blown laugh-out-loud comedy, but it does show us how a victim can use comedy to cover their own fears about what could happen in the future.
Overall, Departures is one of the most beautifully told stories of the year; it has wonderful performances and will make you want to go out there and enjoy your own life.
Darren starting writing for films at Movies Reviews 101. He joined the Ready Steady Cut team in 2018 and is a proud member of the LAMB (Large Association of movie bloggers).