This Week’s Recommendation: I Wish

11 Jun 2021

Title: I Wish

Japan, 2011

128 mins, language: Japanese

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda

'I Wish' was the 717th film screened by RFS on 14th January 2014, receiving an audience rating of 89%.

It was in the list of top ten films of 2013 for both the Guardian and the BBC’s Film 2013.  The following is an edited version of Peter Bradshaw’s review in the Guardian, published on 7 February 2013:

“Like Hirohazu Koreeda’s earlier movie 'Still Walking', this is a deeply considered Japanese family drama in the tradition of Ozu...... moving, sometimes heartbreakingly sad, often mysterious. The film is about the powerful imperative of family unity, but also about the inevitability, and even desirability, of families finally disintegrating and allowing everyone involved a painful kind of freedom.

The original title is Kiseki, or "Miracle", and a miracle is being longed for by two brothers, around nine or 
10 years old: they are Koichi and Ryu, played by real-life brothers, from whom the director gets terrifically natural and relaxed performances. Their mum and dad have broken up;
 Nozomi  has returned to live with her parents and taken a demeaning supermarket job in her hometown of Kagoshima... Meanwhile the father, Kenji, (Jô Odagiri) stays in Osaka, where he pursues the laid-back slacker lifestyle that so infuriated Nozomi, failing to hold down day jobs while in the evenings trying to be a guitarist in a band.

The difficult and upsetting thing about this arrangement – never fully discussed by anyone, adult or child – is that the warring parents have taken a child each: withdrawn, thoughtful Koichi has gone to his mother and grandparents; easygoing and smiley Ryu has gone to live with his dad. Clearly, this setup is a way the couple have found of signalling to others and to each other that the breakup is temporary; they are taking a break and sharing the childcare burden equally, though without fully considering how the children will feel about it. But as the days and months go by, Koichi can feel the situation hardening into permanence and, talking with his brother on his mobile, hatches a strange and poignant new plan: he has heard that the newly built bullet train lines create a supernatural energy at the point where the trains whoosh past each other. If the boys can just contrive to skive off school and make a wish at this focal point, their happiness can be restored…”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Full film notes available in the Twickenham & Richmond Tribune -

The film can be streamed from from Curzon and BFI Player and the discs are available from Amazon and  other retailers.

Presented by Richmond Film Society