Friday, August 17th, 2012

This week’s screening room film, I Wish, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (Nobody Knows, Still Walking) is a simple, joyous delight. Like most of Koreeda’s films, the plot centers on a family in crisis. The narrative revolves around the two sons Koichi and Ryu, who are living in separate households following their parent’s divorce. Koichi wants nothing more than to bring his family back together, so when he hears from a classmate that the energy released when two bullet trains pass one another for the first time has the power to grant miracles, he resolves to use his wish to reunite his parents when the city’s new bullet train takes its maiden voyage.

With all of the charm and none of the violence of Stand by Me, the the brothers and their friends make it their mission to travel to the town where the new bullet train will first encounter another bullet train traveling in the opposite direction. The cast of characters is expansive, including Koichi and Ryu’s five friends and some of their parents. But rather than allowing the film to become muddled by the large cast, Koreeda deftly weaves a narrative that juxtaposes the simplistic optimism of youth with the weary pragmatism of age, all the while showing the audience that no matter what age or circumstance, the way forward is superior to languishing in the past. And is there a better metaphor for moving forward than a bullet train?

At turns heartbreaking and heartwarming, I Wish is a film for all ages about friendship and family and the importance of accepting the permanence of the past while embracing the malleability of the future.

I Wish is in Japanese with English subtitles

PG, 128min