Directed by Peter Hutchings
Starring Maisie Williams, Asa Butterfield, Nina Dobrev and Ken Jeong
Available on Digital Download from March 4th, 2019

by Laura Patricia Jones

“Don’t write some cliché like swimming with dolphins… And don’t go to Disneyland, it’s shit. Thousands of dying kids there, you won’t get any special attention…”

This comedic tone is what sets Departures apart from other teen movies setting course along a similar theme; giving it a different tone to My Sister’s Keeper, The Fault in Our Stars, etc, but without taking away its poignancy. You feel bad for laughing, but the jokes are on point!

Skye, an impulsive and headstrong teen played by Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), has a rare strain of cancer which she knows will one day kill her. She befriends Calvin, played by Asa Butterfield (Sex Education, The Space Between Us), a 19-year-old hypochondriac at a support group for terminally ill people which he is attending as a form of therapy to help him realise there’s nothing wrong with him. As part of an exercise they are asked to write their bucket list; stepping away from the childish ideas she describes as clichés, Skye has developed her own unconventional list and recruits Calvin along for the ride.

This includes everything from getting arrested to becoming a firefighter for the day.  Sussing him out quickly, he becomes her new project as part of her dying wish to ‘save a sad case’  as she helps him learns to confront and conquer his own fears, including his greatest fear of all: talking to the beautiful, but seemingly untouchable, Izzy played by Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries).

Departures is a warming teen movie with a touching feel of realness. It humanises the journey of a young person with terminal illness bringing out the bold and vibrant character of Skye rather than defining her by her illness. In fact, with the exception of a shot of her taking her meds and the addition of some very vibrant wigs, it’s not until the end of the film where her suffering and fragility is the focal point.

Maisie Williams packs an energetic and at points moving portrayal of the turbulence experienced by the cut short teen and her performance becomes more believable as the film plays out. It’s the kind of movie you go into knowing how it will end so it doesn’t really stir you, but it’s enjoyable regardless. It’s one best saved for a rainy Saturday afternoon when you’re not feeling too emotionally fragile.


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