Maisie Williams and Asa Butterfield are two brilliant young actors who don’t belong in this film. Peter Hutchings’ Departures is another tired cliché of the terminally ill teen who drags a friend along to complete a bucket list, or as Maisie Williams’ Skye describes it, a ‘to-die list’. When she meets Calvin (Asa Butterfield) she decides that he is the person to help her tick things off. Calvin being an obsessive hypochondriac, the two make for an odd and slightly forced pair.
Their performances are good, they just feel as though they were meant for other films. Maisie Williams’ over the top ‘quirky!’ girl in knee-high converse and bright blue wigs becomes almost annoying – remembering the character has cancer, guilt ensues. She keeps her British accent, yet Butterfield plays an American; it’s safe to say both accents slip many times. Neither of the protagonists are likeable from the outset, and the film moves faster than the audience. Before you’ve warmed to them, they’re already having the inevitable impassioned arguments before Calvin shouts “Skye! Wait!” as she walks toward the camera with an expecting look. There is a confident sentimentality here that doesn’t feel earned, their relationship doesn’t build, it just appears.
Ignoring the in-your-face manipulative soundtrack, the film gets brownie points in that it takes the direction of a completely platonic relationship between the two leads. Jokes about seductive winking and erections occur, but all with a childlike playfulness. They’re rooting for each other, but they don’t want each other. In spite of this, and some clear effort on Williams’ part, Departures never takes flight.
by Millicent Thomas
Millicent Thomas is a proud Mancunian studying Film & Publishing at Bath Spa University. Hobbies include video-games, theatre, and waiting for Charles Xavier to show up and tell her she’s the world’s most powerful mutant. Her favourite films are Her, Logan, Columbus and the Spy-Kids trilogy. You can follow her on Instagram at @millicentathomas and Twitter and Letterboxd at @millicentonfilm