I WISH


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I Wish is the new film by writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda, one of the finest filmmakers to come out of Japan in the last twenty years (he’s also responsible for such incredible films as After Life, Nobody Knows and Still Walking and is sometimes called the cinematic heir to Yasujiro Ozu).  It’s about two brothers who join some friends to be at the point of intersection when two bullet trains pass each other on their maiden voyage.  There is a method to their madness.  According to an urban myth floating around, this intersection will create so much energy it will grant anybody who witnesses it one wish.  My wish was that I could say I liked this film as much as others have (it got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes among top critics), but I feel very bad that I just can’t.  It’s a charming idea for a story and there are times when that charm comes through (especially in the section where the kids end up spending the night before the event with two strangers, a husband and wife of grandparent age who miss having children around since their daughter left them and never came back).  But for me, it was a bit too leisurely paced and took too long to focus on its central conceit, possibly because the story was divided between too many children.  It’s most effective through line revolves around the aforementioned brothers.  They each live in a different city because their parents have separated.  One is wishing a nearby volcano that is spouting ash would fully erupt so his mother will have no place to go but back to her husband (the fact that this would cost thousands of lives in the process is an issue he’s considered, but has not really thought through all that well).  The younger brother, who was tired of listening to his parents fight and doesn’t want a reunion, has a tad more selfish wish.  But their stories are too often diluted by the other lest interesting ones inhabited by their friends.  And when the kids do find their way to the point of intersection, one expects to see thousands of people there for the same purpose.  But for some reason, these pre-teens are the only ones in all of Japan who had gotten this idea. 
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