“Win some, lose some.” This is what Skye (Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones) utters as she is told the devastating news that there is nothing that can be done for her condition. She is past the point of treatment and should only focus on the quality of life. One wouldn’t know it from looking at her; she is full of life, quirky and unapologetic.
The exact opposite is happening to Calvin (Asa Butterfield, Sex Education, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), as he learns there is nothing wrong with him except, he appears to be a hypochondriac. Despite this information, he lugs around a journal that he can record his every symptom down convinced he has testicular cancer.
Departures centres around these two characters, one dying, one afraid to live, who are thrust together initially in a cancer support group. Skye, obviously because she is dying from cancer, and Calvin attends at his doctor’s request, as a way to see how people that have a death sentence manage to cope knowing they only have a short time left.
Skye and Calvin become best friends immediately and begin working on her bucket list which she affectionately calls her, ‘To Die List.’ There are crazy things on her list which Calvin reluctantly does and most of the time looks to be the unwitting participant. These aren’t the typical swim with dolphins and visit Disneyland tripe, Skye has better designs on things like getting arrested, passing a lie detector test and punching someone in the face.
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The supporting cast of this movie consists of Nina Dobrev (Vampire Diaries) as flight attendant, Izzy, who Calvin has a crush on but is too terrified to speak to her- before Skye. After Skye enters the picture, she challenges Calvin to ask her out and they end up at a movie together completely orchestrated by Skye. Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Julian, another flight attendant that works at the same airport as Izzy and Calvin, who is a baggage handler with his brother and father, played by Tyler Hoechlin and David Koechner respectively. The bright spot in this story is Ken Jeong as Officer Al, who pops in and out of the story as an overly sympathetic police officer that keeps showing up at opportune times to allow Skye and Calvin to get out of the trouble they keep finding themselves in.
The movie plays out as your typical sappy extrovert/introvert team up and suddenly the introvert comes out of their shell and becomes a completely new person. Skye and Calvin have a complicated relationship since it is obvious, they love and care for each other, but not exactly in a romantic way. The way they play off each other is fun to watch and until one sees Skye become really ill, one almost forgets that she inevitably going to die.
For fans of Asa Butterfield this movie is sure to please, since it is cutesy look after awkward pose of this young twenty something that suddenly seems everywhere and in everything. There is even the gratuitous dance like there’s no one watching scene which will have every girl swooning at his adorable nerdiness. Also, those coming out to see this flick that are fans of Game of Thrones looking to see if Maisie Williams has the acting chops to have a career after the epic tale ends will not be disappointed. She delights as the reckless victim, trying to fit in a lifetime of living into her teenage years.
While the tale starts out slightly cliché, it ends up having enough depth and character development coupled with twists that keep you drawn in until the bitter close. Thankfully, with a story as heavy as cancer, one comes away feeling uplifted and challenged to make one’s own ‘To Die List’ and live as brave Skye does right up to the end.
Departures is available on Home Entertainment today.