12-year-old Koichi, who has been separated from his brother Ryunosuke due to his parents' divorce, begins to believe that the new bullet train service will create a miracle when the first trains pass each other at top speed.
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In Kagoshima, the boy Koichi lives with his mother Nozomi in the house of his grandparents. Koichi misses his younger brother Ryunosuke and his father Kenji, who live in Fukuoka, and he dreams on his family coming together again. One day, Koichi overhears that the energy released by two bullet trains passing by each other would grant wishes and he invites his two best friends, Tasuku and Makoto, to travel to the point of intersection of the two trains. Koichi also tells his plan to Ryunosuke that invites his three best friends to join him. Soon the seven children arrive to the meeting point in the journey of discoveries. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is the story of two young Japanese brothers who live apart following the break-up of their parents' relationship. The older boy dreams of his family reuniting and prays for a miraculous intervention in the form of a volcanic eruption, hoping this might lead to his evacuation from his grandparents' region and a return home. Then, when he discovers that the passing of the speeding Bullet trains, approaching from opposite directions, creates a 'cosmic' moment during which wishes are granted, he sets out with a few friends to meet his brother at the meeting point on the railway line. There they make their wishes - with varying results.
The two brothers are forced to deal with the consequences of their parents' choices, ones they have had no part in making. Their belief, to varying degrees, in the power of 'faith' (believing that wishes can come true) then leads them to have to face the consequences of their own choices. Given their youthful immaturity, there is real poignancy in witnessing their confrontation with some harsh realities.
The movie features brilliant performances from the young actors and an excellent supporting cast of adults. There is also gorgeous and evocative cinematography, scenes of the Japanese countryside and its urban impositions, not least the Bullet line itself elevated on its concrete trackbed.
It takes some time, too long perhaps, for the story to gain momentum. But once the youngsters embark on their journey to meet the trains, the story moves at a brisker, more engaging pace. The climax (yes there is a climax, contrary to the view of another reviewer) brings moments of intense beauty and sharp sadness, regret for the loss of childish innocence of as well as optimism in the hope for a better future.
So this is a slow-burner, but persistence brings rewards. Recommended.
(Viewed at The Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK 21.02.13)
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