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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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“I was a brat back when I made Pootie Tang. I was dealing with people every day whose pressures I didn’t understand, and I wasn’t very nice about how I said no to them. I put myself in a position I didn’t have to be in. A lot of what makes this kind of stuff work is empathy. If you’re taking money from somebody, they have a right to look after it. It’s all just trying to be clear about the arrangement. That’s why when I set up ‘Louie,’ I just said, ‘This is what I’m comfortable doing, and if you don’t want to do it, I don’t blame you. But in exchange, I’ll take very little money.’ I was only getting $200,000 per show from them, which is insane, and it goes up just by tiny increments every year. The other part of the arrangement with FX is that if this stops working for them, they should just tell me and we’ll stop doing it. Contractually, FX has a right to demand that the scripts be filtered through them before I shoot them, just like any other show. But from the beginning, they haven’t read anything, and they like the show. If I start turning in shit, then they’re going to start asking to see scripts, and that’s perfectly fair.”
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~ Olivier Assayas on directing

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