moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks

Armed with a big heart and populated with a rich assortment of lively characters, I Wish tells a contemporary tale about children's (yet not childish) desire in urban Japan. It's as if a Studio Ghibli animation (Grave of the Fireflies) had came to life as young Koichi, living with his mother and grandparents, longs for the day his little brother and estranged father will once again be a big, happy family. Director Hirokazu Koreeda takes his time establishing the family dynamics, those of the two boys and their very different existences: Koichi lives a structured life in the menacing shadow of an active volcano while the effortlessly cheerful Ryunosuke is in Osaka with his carefree, musician father.

“I don't get it” is one of Koichi's frequent refrains as he struggles to understand the world around him - why people remain near the volcano, why his school is on the top of a hill, why his brother lives so far away – which Koreeda contrasts with his father's calmer outlook: “if everything had meaning you'd choke,” he says. The result is a deceptively sharp analysis of divorced family life played over three generations in which the director elicits uniformly strong performances from the adult cast, but keeps a focus on the kids who truly shine. Adorable wouldn't overstate their case.

Events come to a head when Koichi learns that the arrival of a new bullet train will miraculously grant a wish to anyone who witnesses it. He and his closest friends, aided and abetted by Koichi's cake-baking grandfather, plot to have their wishes realised. At just over two hours, I Wish is a beautifully realised, meandering stroll through the struggle of growing up, one that rewards the patient with a refreshing, child's eye view of the world, and the buoyant spirit of hope that dwells within us all.

moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks

I Wish (2011) on IMDb

Koki Maeda
Oshiro Maeda
Kanna Hashimoto
Rento Isobe

Hirokazu Koreeda

Hirokazu Koreeda

Japan (subtitles)

PG / 128 minutes

October 4, 2012
Lorem ipsum dolor sit
Stacks Image 73