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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 of 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
I've been impressed with Koreeda's work in the past. "Maborosi" and "After Life" are two excellent, deeply philosophical and moving films. Maybe based on those I had unrealistically high expectations (further inflated by the DVD box boasting a dozen rave reviews & awards), but "I Wish" failed to deliver.
One hour into this 2-hour movie I had to shut it off. Since I didn't watch the whole thing I can't fairly rate it, but I wanted to share my (unpleasant) experience because I wish someone had warned me the same way. This was the first time in my life I've ever shut off a movie from sheer boredom. No, boredom isn't the word. It was more a feeling of total disconnection. The scenes, perhaps attempting to recreate the disconnected, ADD-type thought process of little kids, were so unrelated and random that I became irritated.
Like my title suggests, if you want to see a truly magical film about youth, innocence and the not-so-innocent, hunt down a film called "Kikujiro" (1999). More about that later. First let's talk about "I Wish".
Here is a breakdown of the first hour. Each scene lasts 2-5 minutes. At any time if you become bored, skip to the last paragraph of my review.
Scene 1) a boy grabs a washcloth and cleans his desk. Scene 2) The boy's mother is talking about meaningless things while the grandmother makes random gestures in the air, saying "I'm the wind. I'm a ghost. Etc..." Scene 3) The boys walk to school and complain about the hill. Scene 4) Kids are scolded by a teacher for not doing their homework properly. Scene 5) Kids are in the hall complaining about the teacher. Scene 6) Back to the mother and grandparents talking about vegetable gardens. Scene 7) Jump to some other kids at a swimming pool. Scene 8) The boy stares blankly at his homework assignment. Scene 9) A bunch of old men talk about baking a cake for the festival. Scene 10) The boys are back in school ogling the librarian's legs. Scene 11) The boy's father wakes up, strums a guitar and goes back to sleep. Scene 12) The kids gather and talk about acting.
While I hesitate to call the movie "bad" because I didn't watch it all the way through, I can definitely conclude that the first hour didn't provide enough substance to convince me to keep watching. And trust me, I like slow movies (2001, Werckmeister Harmonies, Hitchcock's Rope). Instead of watching "I Wish", I HIGHLY recommend a Japanese film called "Kikujiro" which this movie seemed to be imitating. However, even though it is slow paced, "Kikujiro" wastes no scenes. They all relate to each other, build upon each other and eventually lead you to a powerful message by the time the film ends. The music in "Kikujiro" (composed by the Japanese master Joe Hisaishi) is also leagues above the mediocre soundtrack of "I Wish", another turnoff. Maybe one day I'll go back & finish the last hour of this film and revise this review if I feel differently. But all the same, I'd rather spend my time watching something else.
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