Before the Easter break the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club was in Scotland with the showing of the documentary We are Northern Lights (2012) this week we have come back to Japan. The last time we visited this country was for Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) and this time it’s for the feature film I Wish (2011). Introduced by Julie McMorran, swiftly becoming our resident expert on Asian movies, who gave us a little background to the films director. Reputed to be one of the best contemporary Asian directors working today Hirokazu Kore-eda is probably best known in the UK for directing and writing Still Walking (2008) which was a portrait of a family over a 24 hour period as they commemorate the death of their eldest son. I Wish (2011), written and directed by Kore-eda, is also about the family unit and children.
Julie informed us that the director was born in Tokyo in 1962 and originally had intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from university in 1987 he went on to become an assistant director working on Japanese television. During this period he also made his first film Lessons from a Calf in 1991. The main themes of his work normally include family and are focused around children, memory loss and grief and can feel as though they have a combination of blended documentary and fictional narratives. She rounded off by telling us that tonight’s film presents a rather interesting take on the relationship between technology and society, and in particular the role of the train.
|Koki and Oshiro Maeda.|
The film stars real life brothers Koki and Oshiro Maeda and tells a story about two young brothers who live separated in different cities after their mother and father have broken up, but dream of reuniting. This is arranged between the two brothers and some of their friends with both groups travelling by local trains to meet at the exact mid point where the newly built Bullet Train’s cross. It’s when these trains pass one another and a ‘magic field’ is generated that a wish can be made and hopefully come true.
A slow and precise movie beautifully made and shoot, with a wonderfully enduring premise. The division of character between the children and the adults involved is superbly directed and handled by Kore-eda and as we have been told previously, directing young children is not a particularly easy task! Although as one of my colleagues pointed out Japanese children are better behaved than their British counterparts. My only wee gripe is that the film is a little to long with the first part taking to long to establish the contrasted families and spends to much time involved with the children’s school life. An accurate picture of suburban modern day Japan and as Peter Bradshaw opined ‘a gem of world cinema by a gifted master of the craft’ and who would disagree.