I Wish

Still Walking, I Think


11 May 2012| No Comments on I Wish     by Sean Chavel


Haggard, and less than enchanting. I Wish (Japanese with English subtitles) is the new film by hit-or-miss director Hirokazu Kore-eda, and this one is in the latter annals. Perhaps fresh students of Japanese culture will be enraptured by this slow-moving but exotic work. But since I’ve seen so many Japanese films in my lifetime, I feel this isn’t one of the better ones. Kore-eda is servicing the subtle style and meditative mood of Yasujiro Ozu’s films (“Late Spring,” “Tokyo Story”), but his film only thinks its Ozu. By trailing multiple youngsters as they go for a “grown-up” adventure, Kore-eda’s film is also a pale reminisce of Francois Truffaut’s French film “Small Change” (1976). But “I Wish” lags on and on like an old man hobbling with a crutch, going off on slow tangents over and over again when you just want him to stick to the main road.

The two boys of the film (played by Koki Maeda and Ohshiro Maeda) hear that if they watch two trains pass each other side-by-side then any wish they yelp will be fulfilled. They want their divorced parents to reunite. They get some other adorable kids to tag-along, with poignant wishes of their own, but there’s some mischief in the pile-up of lies. As a story, it sounds sweet and wistful, idealistic and cool.

But in-between the touching sentiment, however, lies unintended depression. The images have dusty silt surfaces. Like all this brownish yellow gunk ended up on the film stock, but you can’t clorex-rinse it off. Sure, the kids are from a hometown where a constantly erupting volcano emits ash that envelops the city. But why does every emotion of the film have such a stodgy and musky appearance?

The unappealing look of the film keeps it from being memorable, to say the least, when you just want to rub your eyes out every few minutes. Cute, it was supposed to be. Instead, it’s kind of an acute failure.

I’m not sure what this Kore-eda is doing in his last two films, this one and “Still Walking” (2008). I much preferred “After Life” (1998) and “Nobody Knows” (2005) which are stand-out Japanese films by the director.

128 Minutes. Rated PG. Japanese in English subtitles.


Film Cousins: “Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning” (1959, Japan); “Small Change” (1976, France); “Nobody Knows” (2005, Japan); “Still Walking” (2008, Japan).



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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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