Review: I Wish-Kiseki (2011)

I Wish-Kiseki (2011)

Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda | 123 minutes | drama | Actors: Koki Maeda, Ohshirô Maeda, Ryôga Hayashi, Cara Uchida, Kanna Hashimoto, Rento Isobe, Hoshinosuke Yoshinaga, Hiroshi Abe, Yoshio Harada, Isao Hashizume, Kirin Kiki, Masami Nagasawa, Yui Natsukawa, Jôna Taisuka, Nene Ohnatsuka

Every day, twelve-year-old Koichi (Koki Maeda) walks from home to school, up a hill on the public road, at perfect pace with classmates. The decor is dominated by the volcano Sakurajima. This regularly covers Koichi’s hometown of Kagoshima with a fine layer of ash. Koichi is fascinated by the idea that the volcano will one day erupt. It might see him reunited with his father Kenji and his little brother Ryunosuke. They live in another city, Hakata. Kenji (Joe Odagiri) takes on the role of failed rocker and idler with gusto. So Koichi lives with his disgruntled and disillusioned mother Nozomi (Nene Ohtsuka) with his grandparents and can only exchange information by telephone with his brother Ryunosuke (Ohshiro Maeda). The announced opening of a high-speed line (shinkansen) between Kagoshima and Hakata gives Koichi an idea. The energy released when two high-speed trains pass each other can make his wish come true. But for that Koichi has to witness it. With his friends Makoto and Tasuku, he embarks on a nefarious plan to be in the right place at the right time during school hours.

Supported by lighthearted Japanese hillbilly music, director Hirokazu Kore-Eda, who also wrote the screenplay, brings together the life visions of three generations in ‘I Wish’: youth, maturity, old age. The first perspective is determined by budding dreams, expectations, loves, the second threatens to be frustrated by those same aspects, the third is resigned to their elaboration. Until, therefore, the arrival of the Shinkansen. Then Grandpa (Isao Hashizume) and his mates get it on their hips. Backed by the necessary sake, they dream aloud of a new economic miracle. Grandpa himself revives his drowsy career as a baker and develops plans to relaunch a traditional Japanese cake. And grandma? Who practices for hula dancer.

‘I Wish’ emerges as consciousness awakens in the lives of young people. In the beginning, the film (apparently) lacks a direction, a goal, a story. The film still comes across as a kid who stares out of the classroom absent-mindedly. However, when the credits begin, it appears that a transition has occurred unnoticed in the intervening time. Then everything in ‘I Wish’, including the dreamy beginning, turns out to be part of a meticulous plan. As with his earlier film ‘Nobody Knows’, Kore-Eda gives shape to the experience of life as a child with ‘I Wish’, a phase of life in which everything is still possible, in which fantasy and reality can still overlap, and in which you can and circumstances that shape the present and the future, can slip away with impunity.

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