The Departure

Someone has to talk people down from killing themselves. But who helps the helper?

By some reckonings, we’re put on Earth to help other people. That’s great on paper, but not only can you not fix everyone’s damage, can you even fix anyone else if you yourself are in need of fixing? (Which, by the way, you definitely are?) This is the dilemma faced by Ittetsu Nemoto, the subject of Lana Wilson’s documentary The Departure. Nemoto is a Tokyo bad-boy-turned-monk who has devoted his life to helping people prepare for death — and, more pressingly, to convince them t­­­­o not take their own lives. The latter mission consumes most of his attention as suicidal people call, email, and text him at all hours. He always obliges, to the extent that he’s not as present as he should be for his wife and especially their toddler son, and the stress of constantly talking people back from their personal ledges proves detrimental to his own health. Preventing people from committing suicide proves to be a particularly uphill battle in the culture that gave us the terms harikari and kamikaze, and The Departure doesn’t have any answers for Nemoto or anyone else. But we see he still goes nightclubbing on occasion, because when you’re faced with constant horror and sadness, sometimes all you can do is face the music and dance.

The Departure
Not rated.
Opens Friday.

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