There is a breath-taking scene in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s lyrical film “I Wish” where a bunch of enthusiastic kids make a wish as two high-speed trains pass each other; the legend is that a wish made at that precise moment of both the ‘bullet trains’ crossing each other will come true. Everyone shout their lungs out to make a wish which ranges from something as simple as running fast, as caring as quitting dad’s drinking problem to as complex as bringing dead cat alive. You really survive without a heart if you are not moved by the emotional wallop this scene packs. The kind of honesty these kids display on the screen is so heart warming and altruistically escalating that in some corner of your heart, you really want all the wishes to come true even though you are certain they possibly wont.
“I Wish” sounds more like a fairy tale film but it lingers in the realm of a graceful realistic tone & an honest approach, where two brothers stay apart owing to their parents’ separation and their attempt to reconcile with them. Though the plot is about the kids trying to unite them, do not expect that the process of uniting the separated couple heavily relies on cliche filled manipulative moments that many films have dealt in past. Detouring from it, film focuses on the impromptu decisions without their implications and the adventure two siblings follow to make it happen.
Interestingly, Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda while hunting for siblings for his unwritten script , accidentally stumbled upon two separated brothers Maeda Maeda who happens to be a stand-up comedy duo. Film stars Kohki Maeda as a stoic, straight face , tough minded elder brother Koichi who stays with his mother, concerned about the dust from imposing a live volcano and goes unaltered emotionally when asked to write an essay on what job student’s father do. He secretly wishes the alive volcano to go off so that they would have to evacuate the city and move to his father’s place. Ohshiro Maeda stars as the younger sibling Ryu who is full of life, finds humor in almost everything, zealous, ebullient and stays with guitar-playing father. So rather than crying over the situation, both the siblings keep busy themselves doing what exactly kids do; they have fun with their friends which is sincerely endearing and genuinely infectious.
So when Koichi overhears his fellow class mate talking about the old legend that can make any wish come true, Koichi devises an elaborate plan that involves his friends and his sibling to make it functional. “I Wish”, whose native title ‘Kiseki‘, very aptly, translates to ‘Miracle’, explores every event with the impulse of kids discovering every sensory pleasure midst of their vulnerable life that is quite unstable itself. Every other character brings a chapter with themselves that in a very subtle manner, mirrors our own reflection at some-point.
As much as “I wish” benefits from everything accounting, it benefits most from the splendid performance by the kids and adults alike,and its writing & direction by Hirokazu. What is even more commendable that all the kids perform oblivious to the fact that cameras are around them. Hirokazu seems have written the small episodic stories and fused them together seamlessly that constructs to form a single entity at the end. On the top of it, it has string of scenes that will render you goosebumps. Like a kid asking elderly couple if they had any wish which he can ask on their behalf. Old lady replies that her wish had already come true; implying that kids coming to stay with them was all the Older couple could dream of. Or when Ryu’s mother ask Ryu why he does not call him or find the time to meet him. It is heartrending when Ryu responds saying,”you think I’m just like Dad, so I was afraid you wouldn’t like me.”
“I want you to grow up to be someone who cares about more than just your own life,” Koichi’s father tells him on the phone, succinctly summarizing the film’s definition of maturity, which is less about achieving a dream than accepting one’s place in the larger world, as messy, sad, and wonderful as it can be.