Children hope for a miracle that will bring their family back together.
“I Wish” (Magnolia Pictures), the new feature film from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda, opens June 15 at Landmark’s Lagoon Cinema in Uptown Minneapolis. The Japanese name of the film, “Kiseki,” means “miracle.”
Kore-Eda, director of Nobody Knows, captures the essence of the Japanese family, inspiring hope in viewers around the world with 12-year-old Koichi, who lives with his mother and retired grandparents in the southern Kyushu town of Kagoshima. His younger brother Ryunosuke lives with their father in Hakata, northern Kyushu.
The brothers have been separated by their parents’ divorce and Koichi’s only wish is for his family to be reunited. When he learns that a new bullet train line will soon open linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment these new trains first pass each other at top speed.
With help from the adults around him, Koichi sets out on a journey with a group of friends, each hoping to witness a miracle that will improve their difficult lives.
On the opening day of the Kyushu Shinkansen line, the Tsubame will head south from Hakata while the Sakura will head north from Kagoshima. If you stand at the exact spot where these two trains pass each other, it is said your wish will come true.
Sixth grader Koichi hears this rumor and wants to bring about a miracle of his own. His younger brother lives far away and Koichi wants them to be together as one family again.
Since their parents are divorced. Koichi lives with his mother and grandparents in Kagoshima, while his brother and father live in Fukuoka. The brothers make a grand and crazy plan involving their friends, parents and the people around them, and it is this plan that will bring a miracle to all.
I Wish tells a powerfully moving story of the children’s belief in the miracle, and of the parents watching over them, affected by their adventure and then healed by them. It’s a story that quietly tells the audience that just being alive is a miracle, that having people you cherish in your life is a miracle in itself.
The lead roles are played by real-life comedian brothers Koki and Ohhsiro Maeda. I Wish is their debut feature film.
Kore-Eda first spotted the brother during auditions and, drawn to their innocence and huge potential, rewrote the script for them. The older brother (Koichi) combines strength with great sensitivity; his younger sibling (Ryunosuke) possesses the ability to move seamlessly from sorrow to laughter. It feels more like the boys are living on screen than acting.
“I like how they (children) are incomplete and their presence is unbalanced,” said Kore-Eda in the production notes. “Filming children in movies like Nobody Knows and I Wish really makes me think. I begin to see society through their eyes and through their existence. I think this is because I am a father now, but all the adults in I WISH are adults I want to be like. I want to be an adult who casually waits for his children to come back from their adventures.”
Around them are sympathetic adults, each with their own issues, played by a distinguished cast including Joe Odagiri, Hiroshi Abe, Yui Natsukawa, Kirin Kiki and Yoshio Harada, all of whom have previously appeared in Kore-Eda films. The cast also includes famous faces such as Nene Ohtsuka, Isao Hashizume and Masami Nagasaw. Making her debut is Kyara Uchida as Ryunosuke’s classmate Megumi.
I Wish is set along Kyushu’s new shinkansen (bullet train) line, which opened in March 2011 and is shot on location at various places in Kyushu including Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Fukuoka. The melancholy and memorable theme song ‘Miracle” is produced by train fans Quruli.
I Wish was created out of the desire to make a movie that centered on the Kyushu Shinkansen Line, which opened on March 12, 2011. The intention was not a movie to promote the shinkansen, and not a movie about Kyushu, but a movie that anyone could relate to and be moved by.”
The first image that came to Kore-Eda was the scene from Stand By Me where the children are walking along the railway tracks. But while looking for a story, the director and crew realized something very important.
Many of the tracks for the new shinkansen line were high off the ground and could only be viewed from afar or high above. The plot changed dramatically and the obstacles the children would have to face in order to see the Kyushu Shinkansen pass each other became a key to the story.
Shigeru Kishida created the musical score to accompany the film.