I Wish (Kiseki) (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/02/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 129 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an utterly charming Japanese drama with a pair of terrific performances by gifted young actors and real-life brothers Oshiro Maeda and Koki Maeda.

What's it all about?
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, I Wish (or Kiseki, meaning 'Miracle', original language fans) is set in modern-day Japan and stars Koki Maeda as Koichi, a ten year old boy who has been parted from his younger brother Ryu (Koki's real-life younger brother – and, incredibly, comedy double-act partner – Oshiro Maeda) by the recent separation of their parents (Nene Ohtsuka and Joe Odagiri). After the separation, Koki moved with his mother to his grandparents' house on a southern island in the shadow of live volcano Sakurajima, while Ryu stayed in the northern city of Hakata with his laid-back, guitar-playing father.

Desperate to reunite the family, Koki calls Ryu from school every day and when he hears an announcement about the new bullet train, he conceives a plan to travel to the point where the two trains pass each other for the first time, convinced that they will release magical energy capable of granting any wish. Though initially reluctant, Ryu eventually agrees to join his brother at the agreed spot, so both boys set off on their quest, each accompanied by a group of friends with their own wishes.

The Good
Koki and Oshiro Maeda both deliver extraordinary performances that are a delight to watch, their two distinct personalities (Koki serious and grounded, Oshiro light-hearted and energetic) complementing each other brilliantly; once you know they're a comedy double-act offscreen, you can easily see it in their interactions. In addition, there's terrific support from Nene Ohtsuka and Joe Odagiri as well as young Kayara Uchida as Megumi, one of Ryu's accompanying friends.

Kore-eda's direction is assured throughout, though it's fair to say that the pacing flags a little in the middle section and the film feels slightly too long at just over two hours. What impresses most about the film is the level of realism (despite the apparently magical premise) in the behaviour of the children, coupled with the refreshing lack of sentimentality, especially given the potentially mawkish subject matter.

The Great
Kore-eda orchestrates a number of terrific sequences throughout, such as the boys' grandfather attempting to bake a cake in the shape of the bullet train or Ohtsuka and Odagiri both finding their own separate strengths as single parents. The film also builds to a marvellous, uplifting climax that's guaranteed to send you out of the film with a smile on your face.

Worth seeing?
I Wish is a hugely enjoyable, warm-hearted childhood drama that's both laugh-out-loud funny and powerfully emotional. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

I Wish (Kiseki) (tbc)
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Content updated: 26/09/2018 15:12

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