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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

Review: I Wish



I Wish
, a tale of two young brothers separated by their estranged parents who wish for their family to be reunited and happy, is a rare gem of a little film, the kind of film adult cinema lovers will enjoy for its quiet beauty and keen understanding of childhood, but that older kids might appreciate as well. While writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda has clearly made a film about children intended for adults, I Wish could also be a great choice for introducing older kids to a film with subtitles — and to the concept that a story about kids doesn’t have to be action packed or have aliens or zombies or lots of explosions to be worth watching. The themes here around family, loss and forgiveness are universal, and kids from any culture can easily relate to the ways in which we grownups complicate their young lives.

Koichi (Koki Maeda) and his younger brother Ryu (Oshiro Maeda) have separated for six months, with Koichi living with their mother on one end of the island and Ryu on the other with their father. The two boys maintain communication via cell phone conversations which are so well-conceived they could be used in a master class on how to write this kind of dialogue. It’s heart-rending and lovely, as is almost everything about this film. When a new bullet train line is built, the two brothers get it in their heads that at the very moment the opposite trains pass each other for the first time, you can make a wish and it will come true. With a pack of friends eager to make their own wishes, Koichi and Ryu try the only way they can think of to reunite their family.

It’s a simple enough story, but Koreeda’s writing makes it delicately complex as he interweaves subplot and character to create this realistically flawed, yet hopeful family. I always think it’s rather ballsy for a writer-director to filter a feature-length film through the perspective of a character who’s a child. It’s a tricksy thing to pull off, relying on a kid (or kids) to carry your entire film, but Koreeda also displays an able hand working with his engaging young actors, who charm in every frame.

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“Chad Harbach spent ten years writing his novel. It was his avocation, for which he was paid nothing, with no guarantee he’d ever be paid anything, while he supported himself doing freelance work, for which I don’t think he ever made $30,000 a year. I sold his book for an advance that equated to $65,000 a year—before taxes and commission—for each of the years of work he’d put in. The law schools in this country churn out first-year associates at white-shoe firms that pay them $250,000 a year, when they’re twenty-five years of age, to sit at a desk doing meaningless bullshit to grease the wheels of the corporatocracy, and people get upset about an excellent author getting $65,000 a year? Give me a fucking break.”
~ Book Agent Chris Parris-Lamb On The State Of The Publishing Industry

INTERVIEWER
Do you think this anxiety of yours has something to do with being a woman? Do you have to work harder than a male writer, just to create work that isn’t dismissed as being “for women”? Is there a difference between male and female writing?

FERRANTE
I’ll answer with my own story. As a girl—twelve, thirteen years old—I was absolutely certain that a good book had to have a man as its hero, and that depressed me. That phase ended after a couple of years. At fifteen I began to write stories about brave girls who were in serious trouble. But the idea remained—indeed, it grew stronger—that the greatest narrators were men and that one had to learn to narrate like them. I devoured books at that age, and there’s no getting around it, my models were masculine. So even when I wrote stories about girls, I wanted to give the heroine a wealth of experiences, a freedom, a determination that I tried to imitate from the great novels written by men. I didn’t want to write like Madame de La Fayette or Jane Austen or the Brontës—at the time I knew very little about contemporary literature—but like Defoe or Fielding or Flaubert or Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky or even Hugo. While the models offered by women novelists were few and seemed to me for the most part thin, those of male novelists were numerous and almost always dazzling. That phase lasted a long time, until I was in my early twenties, and it left profound effects.
~ Elena Ferrante, Paris Review Art Of Fiction No. 228

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