Grown-ups debate the welfare of children ad infinitum, but forget one salient fact. Kids are not little people. They are themselves.
Writer/director Kore-Eda Hirokazu understands this, which makes I Wish a unique and fascinating film.
Don’t expect rational thought, nor a plot that follows tramlines to a preordained happy ending.
This could not be further from the false glow of Hollywood feel-good. It is a journey of sorts, certainly an adventure. If it touches the heart, it does so obliquely.
Twelve-year-old Koichi lives with his mother and grandparents close to a volcano in Japan that is permanently puffing out ash clouds, which means he spends much of his time cleaning and dusting.
His younger brother Ry lives in another town with their rock musician father in a casual atmosphere of mutual respect. The brothers could hardly be more different – Koichi is self-possessed and serious. Ry is impetuous and funny.
Plans for a bullet train to join the towns are complete. Koichi believes that if he and Ry can witness two trains passing on the tracks their wishes will come true. What the brothers want most is to be reunited and for their parents to get back together again.
If that sounds cheesy, it isn’t. “Do kids today feel something for anything?” one of the adults asks. Of course they do,but not in the way convention decrees,
I Wish is uncompromising in its depiction of children in their own rights. Innocence is positive without being sentimental.
Plans have loose ends. Life is more than helping Grandpa make cake.
Dreams are wishes and wishes have their own energy. Like bullet trains.