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Departures film review: Maisie Williams and Asa Butterfield shine in this YA film

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Verdict: A film about a surprising friendship and the fragility of life will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.

Marking itself as a noteworthy addition to the YA film category, and seemingly to spout from a John Green novel, Departures stars the outstanding British talents of Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) and Asa Butterfield (Journey's End).

Butterfield stars as Calvin, a 19-year-old who is artistically gifted yet socially awkward and afraid of his own shadow. He is anxiety-riddled and a massive hypochondriac, constantly testing himself for diseases he doesn’t actually have, and keeping a log of all of his various ailments in a “symptoms journal” that he keeps on him at all times.

In an effort to help him gain a bit of perspective and perhaps grudgingly accept that he is perfectly healthy, Calvin's doctor sends him to a cancer support group meeting. It is there he meets Skye, played by the brilliant Maisie Williams.

Image Credit: Movie Partnership

Skye is spunky, brash, impulsive, and filled with endless amounts of quirks and bravado, seeming to laugh in the face of her cancer diagnosis - despite the fact that, at the very beginning of the film, we see her receiving a terminal diagnosis.

Calvin and Skye’s friendship does not get off to the most conventional of stars - she is attempting to steal candy from a vending machine and takes advantage of her diagnosis to get him to help her lift it, urging him to use the strength that chemotherapy has robbed her of. Skye urges Calvin to “Put some hurt on it”, and that’s exactly what this movie does, layering you with deeply intense emotional scenes that work hard to crush your heartstrings rather than simply pull upon them.

And whilst there are some scenes that will make you cry deeply, they are mixed in with brilliant moments of humor that are executed wonderfully by Butterfield as Calvin, who seems to master all of his awkward quirks and mannerism in a way that will make you laugh out loud, and perhaps recognise parts of Calvin in yourself as well.

Skye recruits Calvin to help her on her quest as she aims to complete her unconventional bucket list of things to do before she dies. Through a series of misadventures, they manage to accomplish nearly every single one thanks to the help of a local officer played by Ken Jeong, who absolutely steals every scene and manages to shine no matter what role he plays.

Image Credit: Movie Partnership

Whilst the will-they won’t-they first love flirtation between Calvin and Izzy (played by Nina Dobrev) is sweet, the film is really at its strongest when displaying the unconventional and wonderfully pure friendship between Calvin and Skye.

For people who are fans of films like The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, this film is one you won’t want to miss.


Departures will be released in the UK on 4th of March, 2019.

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