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I Wish (2012)

Release Date:
Friday, May 11, 2012

MPAA Rating:

Rating Reason:
Mild thematic elements, language and smoking.


Koki Maeda, Ohshiro Maeda, RyƓga Hayashi

Written By:
Hirokazu Koreeda

Hirokazu Koreeda

Two brothers have been separated by their parents' divorce and Koichi's only wish is for his family to be reunited. When he learns that a new bullet train line will soon open, linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment these new trains first pass each other at top speed.

I Wish (2012) | Review

The Magic of Hope
Darrel Manson

Content Image
Children have an amazing capacity for faith and hope. Even when things have gone wrong in their lives, they have visions of happy endings. In I Wish a group of children takes a road trip of hope. In earlier films director Hirokazu Kore-eda has focused on children (Nobody Knows) and childishness (Air Doll and After Life) to skillfully find insights into life.

In this film brothers Koichi and Ryu live apart, Koichi with their mother and Ryu in a distant city with their musician father. Koichi grieves their parents' divorce and longs for the family to be reunited. When Kiochi hears that a new bullet-train route is about to start operation, he thinks that if he can see the two trains passing each other for the first time, he can get his wish. As he plans and coordinates this plan with his friends and Ryu, he acts out the hope of reuniting his family. Other children, friends of Ryu and Kiochi, each have their own dreams that they want to have come true, so they all set out on a road trip to this magical event.

The film has a feel similar to Stand By Me, in which a group of boys go off to see a dead body. The interplay between childishness and maturity as they travel reflects the internal struggle within the children. Kiochi and Ryu seem to think that it is up to them to take care of their parents. We also see this interplay among some of the adults, especially teachers who facilitate the trip because they have managed to keep alive a bit of their own childish exuberance and wonder.

Kiochi is a very pensive child. Living in a town near an active volcano, he considers how a major eruption could force the family back together. This becomes the focus of his wish. Along the way, however, it becomes evident that if that happened it would bring grief to others, even if it brought joy to him. Does this mean he should not make his wish?

As with other road movies, it is the journey that matters more than the destination. There are obstacles to be overcome along the way. There are discoveries to be made by all the children as they make this trip. Those insights will be the true magic when they return home, allowing them to live out those dreams or to reimagine their world.

At the center of the story are the concepts of faith and hope. Kiochi in particular is looking for a miracle. He does not wait for the miracle passively, but takes it upon himself to try to make this miracle happen. He, more than any of the other children, seems to believe that this miracle is possible. He begins to build a plan around that possibility. He acts as though if he just completes his plan, the miracle will happen.

Is there a payoff for this faith? As is often the case, the answer to that question depends on our own understanding of miracles, faith, and hope. Miracles come in many disguises. Often it is hard to tell a miracle from the results of our efforts to find that miracle.

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