I Wish - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

I Wish Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 19, 2012
When a 12-year old Japanese boy hears that if you make a wish at the exact time two bullet trains pass it comes true, he gathers his friends for a trip to the magical spot so he can wish for his broken family to be reunited. Sweet and minor, made with obvious love and care, but my unfulfilled wish was that the film would dump two or three of its meandering subplots and end about 30 minutes sooner.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2012
A delicate film that relies on the talent and charisma of its young actors, making us easily relate to their dreams and wishes in a simple but quite honest story. Koreeda proves again that he knows well how to draw natural performances from children.
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2012
I'm a sucker for movies about siblings, so I really wanted to see this one.
It's sort of a modern Ozu movie. It has a similar pace and just like some of Ozu's movies, it's about family in a changing society.
Super Reviewer
May 20, 2012
In "I Wish," Kenji(Jo Odagiri), a musician, and his wife Nozomi(Nene Ohtsuka) have separated. Not only that but they have left their mutual home in Osaka to return to their hometowns. Nozomi took their eldest son Koichi(Koki Maeda) with her to live with her and her family in the shadow of an active volcano where his new school is at the top of a hill. Ryu(Ohshiro Maeda) gets to live with his father. So, both brothers live parallel lives, making new friends along the way. One day, Koichi overhears a conversation about how if one makes a wish where two bullet trains pass each other, it is bound to come true.

"I Wish" is lighter and less focused than Hirokazu Koreeda's other films that I have seen with an engaging plot that it occasionally forgets in favor of subplots like the grandfather(Isao Hashizume) making cake and other digressions that seem more suited for television programs that have the time to fully explore them.(As good as his movies usually are, this is not the first time they have reminded me of television.) Admittedly, in the grandfather's case, that might have something to do with new traditions superseding old traditions in Japan. In any case, there is just too much good will accumulated to not recommend this movie, despite its flaws and its protracted ending.
Super Reviewer
½ April 17, 2012
Koreeda in top form
February 3, 2015
A beautiful film, but not among the best I've seen of Kore-Eda. The plot meanders in a lovely way, contrasting well with the sadness of the story. All of Kore-Eda's poetry, lyricism and wistfulness are on display. It's a treat. But the second half of the movie is never fully realised, or made the most of. Still, a delight.
October 24, 2014
Deceptively simple, as if Kore-eda managed to "capture" reality and transmit it to us, but in actuality meticulously crafted, right down to the soundtrack which may be the key force in getting us on the movie's wavelength. I don't necessarily mean the music, which is pleasant enough indie-guitar and j-pop jangling, but instead the way that the voices of the kids (there are 7 of them in larger or smaller roles) and adults (mostly oldies in larger roles) tend to overlap and join together and emerge naturally amidst the other diegetic sounds, saying natural-seeming things. Indeed, the movie could be taken as a 1970's Altman-esque affair, rather de-centralized in plotting (although the focus on the two brothers who wish their parents' divorce hadn't separated them provides the main thrust) and featuring a widening array of characters some of whom have only bit parts but still provide loads of color and emotional weight. Of course, having been to Japan may help one to appreciate the film, making it easier to settle into its relaxed grooves, or perhaps having seen any Hollywood product starring kids will allow even the least Nihon-aware viewer to realize that this film is as far away from that cloying, over-acted, sentimental, and artificial claptrap as you can possibly get. Kore-eda's other films (After Life, Nobody Knows, Maborosi, Still Walking) are also worth your time, if this is your jam.
½ December 24, 2013
There's a mysterious wisdom in this urban folktale, and I surmise that comes from the unsappy writing and direction of Koreeda. Koki Maeda is outstanding and the emotional payoff is absolutely overwhelming.
November 5, 2013
The honesty and humanity of Ozu reverberates through Kore-eda in an original heartfelt domestic drama about two brothers who are separated and forced to live far from each other after their parents get divorced. However, what brings the two together is this strange belief that the new bullet train service will make a wish come true when the first trains pass each other at full speed. A nostalgic and sweet natured portrayal of modern childhood as well as a representation of a modern domestic situation with the warmth of classic filmmaking. Kore-eda's film is tastefully and faithfully observant of its characters and true to its development in creating a touching coming of age drama.
½ August 8, 2013
How can you not appreciate a movie like this? Performances that tug at your heart strings at every turn as well as the innocence of two real life brothers that can make a grown man tear up. I have to admit that there's something about Japanese movies that have a "robotic" element to it that seems awkward at times. But still this is a great movie that people should at the very least know about. Take some time out of your week to watch this. 7/10
½ July 31, 2013
A great look at life and its problems from the perspective of pre-teens. Groups of friends try to balance their current lives with their wants and desires -- from dreams of stardom to bringing a broken family back together. In the process, they begin to see how the adult world operates and how they can maneuver within that framework.
July 23, 2013
Way too slow. Couldn't get through it.
February 23, 2013
Subtle and big. Funny and serious. More about inspiring thought than issuing judgement. A enjoyable adventure in Kyushu.
February 10, 2013
Lighthearted but profound Japanese family drama about two young brothers forced to live apart after the separation of their parents. The more sensitive Koichi (Koki Maeda) lives with his mother and grandparents in Kagoshima under the shadow of the active Sakurajima volcano, while the happy-go-lucky Ryu (Ohshirô Maeda) has remained in Fukuoka with their slacker musician father. Koichi longs for them to be reunited and when he hears of a magical rumour that when two super-fast Bullet trains pass each other they create enough cosmic energy to grant your wish, he and his friends set out to put things back the way they were.

The suburban tale of a troubled family told with a touch of fantasy and adventure draws obvious parallels with Spielberg, and it is more than worthy of the comparison. Director Hirokazu Koreeda elicits two incredibly natural performances from the boys (real life brothers) and indeed all of the young cast - in the scenes where they're hanging out he has seemingly turned the camera on some local school friends, their relationships seem so genuine. Koichi and Ryu's story is interspersed with those of their friends and family, all of whom have their own struggles and aspirations. Be it their grandfather's desire to bake a successful sponge cake, or Koichi's friend's dream of marrying the beautiful school librarian, every character - no matter how minor - is portrayed as a real person with their own hopes and fears. As a result it is constantly engrossing, establishing an affinity with everyone on screen and also allowing some fantastically warm funny moments to emerge from the characters themselves. Despite its concentration on character over narrative, and its general unpredictability, the film still has a mainstream tone and is more than capable of cultivating a wide, varied audience.

A quiet natural film that avoids obvious melodrama and sentimentality, it retains a thoughtful depth about what it is to dream and hope for that which is just out of reach. As is often the case with the most affecting cinema its power lies in what the viewer brings to it from their own lives, and how much they are willing to invest in the film. With no obvious moral or message, it has the potential to be interpreted in many ways. A philosophical yet thoroughly accessible film that effortlessly gets under the skin.
February 9, 2013
Hirokazu Koreeda's work is unknown to me, so I approach this review unable to comment on how it compares to his previous films. "I Wish" is the story of two brothers, living apart due to their young parents failed marriage, coping with their separate lives. They hear an urban legend that wishes come true when made at the point when two bullet trains pass by one another, so they agree to travel with friends to a point where they can all express their desires.

This film is a perfect example of the slow film that divides opinion. Those that love it say that it is gentle, thoughtful, measured; while those that couldn't stand it say that it's meandering, nothing happens. It's easy to empathise with both crowds, though by my score you can guess I've drunk the Kool-aid.

It is a slow film (my favourite euphemism for this is 'patient' by the way) and has modest ambitions, but it certainly is also an adventure film - it's just that the adventure is on the scale of your average holiday special. The plot itself is not the main reason to like this movie and neither are the characters, who never rise above representing their wishes.

Instead the enjoyment comes from the cinematography, which is never less than beautiful, and the soundtrack which are woven together to create a really joyful experience. "I Wish" is genuinely life-affirming, without straying too far into sentimentality (though it is guilty of this at times). It also does a great job of expressing to this wanna-be otaku what Japanese life in a small town might be like - or at least better than most anime does.

It struck me when leaving the cinema that I rarely watch new live-action Japanese films - the last one I can think of was the excellent 'Departures', which won "Best Foreign Language Film" in 2009. When I think of modern Japanese cinema, I think of speedily-made Takashi Miike horror films that cling to a mid-90s burst of inspiration. If "I Wish" does anything, it will at least make me re-evaluate the non-animated output of the great cultural melting pot of Japan.
July 22, 2012
A gentle little film with a strong heart...
December 28, 2012
I really don't understand how so many people thought this movie was so great. It started out interesting, but then it just went nowhere. I must admit, I may have missed the point of the film.
December 17, 2012
I finally gave up on this movie after an hour. Yes, it's cute, delicate and observant. BUT NOTHING HAPPENS. It repeats the same scenes again and again, with no different outcome, which results in disengagement and boredom. I really wanted to like it, but I left after 60 minutes almost asleep.
½ December 12, 2012
Absolutely charming film about two brothers each living with one separated parent who hear a story about the energy released when two bullet trains pass each other.
They decide to go to that place and make a wish...
I do not know how you can get such wonderful performances from small children, but this film certainly does.
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