Sometimes, when I least expect it, I find exactly the right movie at exactly the right moment.
“I Wish,” written and directed by Japanese filmmaking virtuoso Hirokazu Kore-eda, tells the story of two young brothers who are split apart by the separation of their parents. The oldest brother, who lives quietly in the south of Japan with his mother and grandparents, wishes for the family to be reunited. He concocts a plan over the phone with his younger brother, who lives wildly in the north of Japan with his musician father, to meet in the middle between their respective towns. Their hope: A miracle will happen when they witness the intersection of two new bullet trains passing each other at top speeds.
This little movie has such a simple premise, but Kore-eda frames every sequence with heart and art. Real-life brothers Koki and Oshiro Maeda lend an authenticity to the adventure that would have been impossible to capture otherwise. The onscreen brothers bring the magic of a kid’s naive spirit to the serious subjects of separation and loneliness. In particular, their everyday interactions with their father and grandfather– the ways that the boys so closely emulate their male role models, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously– frequently moved me to tears.
For me, the best part of “I Wish” was its sweet depictions of childhood adventure. As I near the anniversary of my Big-Kid Playtime Party in the Park event of last fall, the movie reminded me that I should spend less time working and more time making fantastical plans. Let the scheming begin!