Departures: All The Ingredients Without The Execution... | Review

by - Sunday, March 03, 2019


Departures, formerly known as Then Came You, follows hypochondriac, Calvin (Asa Butterfield), as he crosses paths with Skye (Maisie Williams) who is nearing the end of her life after a long fought battle with cancer. He helps her complete her "to die list" and the two of them form an unlikely friendship.

The story is an interesting take on a narrative that has been proven to work by its comparables, The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl however Departures suffers from its bad pacing. It's strange because it seemingly takes 30 minutes to set up what we're really meant to be focussing on but does it in a way that means we're halfway into their friendship before it has even really began and I don't remember it ever starting. Maybe that is deliberate to mimic Skye's whirlwind of a personality, however, I can't help but feel that argument would be better fought if Skye was our central protagonist. She is on the surface the more obvious choice for this as her off-the-walls energy controls every scene she is in and ultimately her journey is the one we should care about the most. 

There are various plot points the writer tries to dip in to Calvin's narrative to separate it from being a generic copy of a story that is so popular in modern culture but it just confuses things which slows down and takes away from what we're really meant to be focussing on. Nina Dobrev's character, Izzy, is painfully underdeveloped and although she is a wonderful actress the story would've flown a lot smoother without her which would leave room for the relationship between Skye and Calvin to have been explored deeper. I had no interest in Calvin's love affair with Izzy and found their scenes jarring amidst the blossoming friendship of our two protagonists. 

 That being said, things get good an hour in when time slows down and the character exploration that should've been done in the first third of the movie kicks in. The montage scenes of them completing Skye's list were sweet and the strongest beat hits when the two of them are in a swimming pool and there's a slight pause amidst their fun, you see from both characters a recognition for what their situation is in way you don't see before or after this moment. It's the first time they are seeing each other for who they really are and although it may seem like a romantic movie trope, it has a melancholic atmosphere to it.

At the heart, Departures is a wonderful exploration of the currency of time and how we utilise it to our advantage in a world where distraction is unforgiving. It has all the beats it requires to hit an audience in the emotions the way it desires but it doesn't execute them well enough and therefore leaves you feeling slightly indifferent by the end. I'm an easy cry-er and I didn't shed one tear which I know I would have done if they had given us more time to understand Skye from all angles. Stories like these are a dime a dozen and if they're going to be used they need something special that sets them apart from the rest and although Departures has all the ingredients, it just doesn't execute them well enough.



Departures is available to watch on selected platforms from March 4th 2019.

Until next time

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