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4.3 out of 5 stars27
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Hirokazu Koreeda's `I Wish' sees real-life brothers Koki and Ohshirô Maeda play Koichi and Ryu, two brothers who are geographically split in Japan by their parents who have split up. Twelve year old Koichi stays with his mother Nozomi (Nene Ohtsuka), who has returned home to Kagoshima to live with her parents. Ryu lives with his laid-back father Kenji (Jô Odagiri) in Osaka, whos's pursuing his ambitions as a musician.

No mention is made of why Nozomi and Kenji had split up, or why the brothers were split themselves to live with one parent. I can only surmise that the arrangement was temporary, so each parent had equal parental duties. Kagoshima is under the imposing shadow of a live volcano which is threatening to erupt, which fascinates Koichi. Although `I Wish' has a plethora of characters who are young and old, the focus is on young Koichi and Ryu. Koichi is the more introspective son, Ryu is easygoing and smiles a lot between those gap-teeth of his.

Koichi and Ryu regularly call each other to keep in touch, but rarely see each other. News of a new bullet trains imminent arrival spurs Koichi into action, he's heard that anyone who witnesses the exact moment where two bullet trains pass one another will have their wishes granted. Koichi and Ryu hatch a plan to meet up and attempt to witness this passing, hoping to restore their family back together again.

`I Wish' is an honestly portrayed and deeply moving film, brimming with energy and intelligence, with not an ounce of sentimentality. There's plenty of subtle comical moments used to charming effect, Ryu's chat with his father about child support in particular is hilarious. Koreeda's astute direction is as light as the traditional sponge cakes that the boys' grandfather makes, and theres a purpose and meaning in the tiniest details and movements. Koreeda manages to knit together so many characters and their individual struggles with warmth and precision, with two stunning performances from Koki and Ohshirô Maeda.

Above all, Koreeda realistically shows that life merely carries on as normal and everyone adapts. Neither Nozomi or Kenji are bad parents, they've merely changed to the point where they've realised their incompatibilities cannot be sustained together. Some things happen which cannot be explained, as Kenji said to Ryu, "There's room in this world for wasteful things. Imagine if everything had meaning. You'd choke."
22 comments|15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is one of those films that puts a smile on your face. It is all about 12 year old Koichi who has been separated from his little brother after his parents split up. He talks to his little brother all the time by mobile and just wants the whole family to be reunited. He has gone to live with his mother in his grand parents house in the sight of an ever angry volcano near the coats. Father and brother are many miles away in Fukuoakia.

Then they hear of the start of the new bullet train service and a knowing friend has heard that the energy produced when two of the trains pass each other is of such magnitude, that if you are present and make a wish at the same time, then that wish will come true. So armed with this news he decides it is his best chance to reunite his family. He tells Ryunoske of his plan who in turn tells his friends. Problem is they need the rail fare, so must also come up with some cunning plans to raise the cash for the plan to work.

It sounds pretty basic, but it is one of those films that although it is about the hope and dreams of children can translate across the generational divide. All of the little actors do a great job especially the two brothers who get that innocence and cunning in equal measure to be completely believable. This might be down to the direction of Hirokazu Koreeda who has allowed all the characters to have both their flaws and their strengths to great effect. In Japanese with good sub titles, this is a heartfelt film that does not shirk from the real issues around familial break down but also manages to bring the hope and innocence of youth into the mix for a genuinely enjoyable film experience.
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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2015
Koreeda's movie is a thoughtful, gently touching, funny and unexpectedly profound study of two small boys whose mum and dad have split up, each taking one of the boys with them. The mother lives in a tiny flat with her parents; the dad, likewise in a tiny flat, but whose companions are his fellow rock band members. The cast of actors is great: the grown-ups are professionals, the children are simply children whom the director chose to play the parts, and very good they all are. Indeed, the kids weren't shown the complete script for the film but were simply briefed on the plot on a day-by-day basis, and then rehearsed using improvised dialogue.

The camerawork is exceptionally imaginative, varied and entirely at the service of the dramatic and emotional needs of the film. All the while the volcano, Sakurajima, across the bay from the city of Kagoshima, rumbles away like some wordless Greek chorus commenting on the action of the drama and underlining the unease felt by the older of the two boys who worries that his mum and dad will never get back together. Highly recommended.
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on 13 January 2016
It is a tale of a group of kids with an idea. So they go off on a long journey to their objective which is finally reached. It's also about the bonding the kids do before and during the journey.

One moment in the movie is one of the girls in the group with the dog Marble. Her innocence to the situation involving her little dog made it feel sad. Thing is the first time we see the dog. It won't move so she has to carry it after asking it what was wrong. The one and only hint to there being a problem of some kind. She takes the dog on the journey with them. This is the sad part to me.

I love my world cinema. Japan sure does know how to make some good movies. I don't care if it's comedy drama horror or something in between. The Japanese are world class movie makers. I always get immersed. Movies like this are escapism. Pure and simple. I Wish has no big bangs or gun fights with dead bodies flying through the air like rag-dolls on fire.

I Wish is a fairly uplifting affair. A story about kids being kids and how they see the world around them. Some with innocent eyes and others not so much. All of them coming together in a common cause. Well done Mr Kore-Eda. A fine movie indeed. His surname on the cover says Kore-Eda but on Google it's Koreeda. Oh well. I spelled it by how it is on the cover. Hope it doesn't matter either way. This is the first movie of his I've seen. I'm going to try Like Father, Like Son next. It sounds like another fine piece of entertainment.

Japanese movies have an atmosphere to them like no one else. Kind of like the late 70s and all through the 80s Italian horror movies. A charm all of their own as well.
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on 27 January 2015
Many critics have said this, but Koreeda really is Ozu's spiritual successor. This is a delight from start to finish. The Maeda brothers are perfect in the starring roles, but it is some of the smaller cameos by older actors that give the film its depth. It's nice to see that Koreeda avoids the easy Hollywood ending too.
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on 15 March 2016
Charming, sweet family drama about two young boys in Japan whose parents have split and one lives with mum and the other with dad, but in separate towns. Missing each other, they arrange train journeys to meet up and set off with some friends on an adventure.
Provincial Japan looks great, lovely countryside that you don't often see much in cinema,and it is all beautifully shot.

Although I would call it a family based drama, it is not overly sentimental or emotional but gently moves along at a nice even pace. If I were to make a criticism I would say it is a few minutes too long, but it is so unusual to see a film like this it was worth it.

5 stars 15/3/16
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on 30 November 2013
I expected this film to be like an emotional bullet train, given the subject matter, but it is actually very subtle and very gentle, which is entirely appropriate. There are not the histrionics that you might expect from an American rendering of the same story. What you get is a gentle representation of the warmth, love, and differences that exist between two young brothers who have been recently separated by divorce, and who have to learn to move forward with change. Koki Maeda and his younger brother Oshiro were perfectly cast as the protagonist brothers Koichi (serious yet still capable of dreaming and having fun)and Ryonosuke (Slightly nuts, and inexhaustibly energetic, yet responsible beyond his years).

The film handles a common situation with panache, and with a clear indication that this is a Japanese film depicting a uniquely Japanese approach to solving it. Wonderful! (I would love to know if the two boys are just playing themselves!)
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on 4 April 2016
This is a sad example of the current state of japanese film making. Unfortunately, the movie was part supported Japan Railway Kyushu which opened the bullet train in Kyushu region of Japan.
First, the story-line is so weak. Second, the much ado about nothing, that is, nothing so inspiring and depicting Japanese society today is shown. It is a shameful movie that has not dug deep into Japanese society's ailment and problem today. It is total waste of money and time to watch this low grade B-class movie.
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on 12 October 2015
Japanese with English subtitles. Uplifting, interesting storyline with some humour. Two brothers whose parents have split up try to find a way to be able to live together again. They meet up; taking along some of their friends; and things turn out okay, but differently to how they first intended. Well directed and also well acted by the children. (Shame they included 1 swear word as it was completely unnecessary. PG rating.)
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on 7 October 2014
The beauty of this film is the little details, the characters are believable and likeable. Although I recognise that not everyone has a 'wanna be rockstar' for a Dad, I feel like 'I wish' gives an insight into modern Japanese culture and family life. The main plotline is relatively simple, but the subplots add just the right amount of depth.
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