Time Out says
It’s no surprise to learn that Daigo has his own unresolved emotional issues (ye olde absent-father scenario), but then again, director Yojiro Takita clearly has a deep-rooted fear of wrong-footing the audience, hence his determination to foreshadow every story development to the point of over-obviousness. Somewhat depressing to think that this won him the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, since this would-be touching drama mainly illustrates how thudding literalism beats any subtlety out of highly promising material. The movie gestures towards deep emotions, but an abiding soft-grained superficiality effectively insulates us from the piercing realities of grief. That said, Yamazaki is wonderful as the éminence grise of corpse preparation – until Joe Hisaishi’s appalling score smothers everything in a string-heavy sludge. Disappointing.