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I Wish - Film Review

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by Louis Fameli (subscribe)
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Be inspired watching a story told through a child's eyes
I Wish is a heartwarming tale about brothers Koichi and Ryunosuke, who have been living apart since their parents split up. Koichi wants nothing more than to have his family reunited, pinning his hopes on a miracle taking place when the new Bullet Trains connecting his and his brother's homes cross paths along their journeys.

Film Poster for I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.
Film Poster for I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.

Koichi, the older of the two brothers, is living with his mother and grandparents and dreams of having a happy family unit, moving back to Osaka and returning to life as he once knew it. He constantly questions why anyone would want to live in the town he is currently staying in, as being near a volcano means constantly needing to clean ash off clothes and buildings. Luckily for Koichi, however, he has two close friends who act as his confidantes, sharing each other's secrets, hopes and dreams.

A scene from I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.
A scene from I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.

Koichi is in an unpleasant situation, having moved three times within a short space of time and currently living with his mother and grandparents. The reason for his living situation is the financial hardship facing his mother, who is struggling to find a well paying job. Also, throughout the film, Koichi consistently phones his younger brother to keep in touch with the other half of his family, an obvious sign of his desire to bring everyone back together.

A scene from I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.
A scene from I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.

Meanwhile, Ryunosuke seems to be enjoying his newfound existence much more than Koichi, living with their musician father. Ryunosuke is shown to have a completely different personality when compared to Koichi. Ryunosuke is outgoing, loud and energetic where his brother is more introverted, calm and solemn. Living with his father, Ryunosuke has begun growing a vegetable patch, making friends and generally settling into life. However, unlike his brother, Ryunosuke has far different memories of his family and does not want them to be reunited, but is unable to tell Koichi his thoughts.

While at school one day, Koichi overhears some of his classmates talking about the new Bullet Trains that will begin passing through their province. The super fast trains travel at a top speed of around 260 kilometres per hour, which according to Koichi's classmates means that miracles can happen when they cross paths. Believing this, Koichi tells Ryunosuke and begins planning a trip with his friends to the place where the trains will meet, to witness the sight and wish for his miracle.

I Wish is written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody Knows) and tells an uplifting and enchanting story. Throughout the film (which is a little lengthy at over two hours), the innocence of youth is depicted, showcasing how children often have such a refreshingly simple understanding of the world. It also demonstrates to viewers how these perspectives are shaped and changed as life continues, with the children slowly but surely growing up as the film progresses.

A scene from I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.
A scene from I Wish, courtesy of Rialto Distribution.

Furthermore, it must be said the characters truly drive this story and as brothers Koichi and Ryunosuke, real-life brothers Koki and Ohshiro Maeda (part of comedy duo MaedaMaeda, fast gaining popularity in Japan) give terrific performances. They manage to highlight their characters' stark contrasts and the ties that continue to connect them despite their differences.

Overall, I Wish is an enjoyable tale about two brothers and their respective journeys into their new and separate lives. Each has lots of growing up to do, made all the more difficult by their parents separation. However, I Wish is neither depressing nor filled with emotional baggage, but manages to craft an uplifting story that will leave viewers smiling.


Another angle: While I Wish is happy and uplifting, the story can come across as overly cute or sweet. It's in these areas that the childlike view the film takes lets it down. Additionally, running at just over two hours, I Wish is a long film with some slow-moving scenes. Viewers wanting a fast paced movie or a film that takes a more mature worldview would be advised to wish for a movie other than this.

Watch the trailer:

*Louis reviewed the film courtesy of Rialto Distribution.
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Why? Watch a heartwarming tale told through a child's eyes
When: See cinemas for details
Where: Select Adelaide Cinemas
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