Director Hirokazu Koreeda styles himself as Japan's Spielberg in this blissful pre-teen adventure movie.
While Steven Spielberg is off making opulent biogs of grand American presidents and sending strapping steeds to war, Japanese maestro Hirokazu Koreeda has chosen to recapture the wide-eyed spirit of Spielburbia. His I Wish is nothing short of glorious, an immensely cheerful pre-teen adventure yarn that feels like a rite-of-passage contemporary to films like Stand By Me, The Goonies and E.T.
Two brothers, geographically split by warring parents, attempt to rescue the warm burr of family living by engineering an eccentric miracle. It is claimed that those who witness the exact moment where two Shinkansen trains pass by one another will have their wishes granted. And so a small team of knee-highs pool their resources, make their alibis and yomp into the countryside.
As with his stunning 2008 film, Still Walking, Koreeda's film again explores about the emotional chasm between parents and their children. But where the earlier film was dashed with melancholy, this is an unreservedly joyous ode to the secret lives of the young. In timehonoured road movie style, the central journey is used as a conceit to meet with the strange, disenfranchised folks on the fringes of society.
Sure, the peril is mild and all the action is overlaid by jarring, hyper-melodic acoustica, but it’s most likely you’ll have developed chronic facial RSI from smiling. And the performances from the lickspittle cast are themselves nothing short of a miracle.
Hirokazu Koreeda is Japan’s greatest working filmmaker. End of.
Delightful isn’t the word. Is hugging a cinema screen illegal nowadays?
The spirit of Spielberg, transplanted to the east. Bliss.