Two young brothers have been separated to live with one parent each; 12 year old Koichi has moved with his unemployed mother to live with his grandparents in a sleepy village under the ash cloud of a constantly grumbling volcano, while his younger brother Ryu has remained in the city to grow vegetables with his struggling musician father. Looking for a way to bring his family back together, Koichi overhears an urban myth by a fellow schoolmate; when the newly extended Bullet Train service sets off for the first time, if you make a wish at the point where the two opposing Bullet Trains meet, it will come true. Koichi then sets off to the mid-way point with some of his friends, telling Ryu to meet him there, and they all embark on their first adult-less adventure into the unknown world.
Charmingly endearing, I Wish is a drama movie with a very gentle disposition; nothing is hurried, and hardly anyone gets too loud or excited by anything happening IN the movie, so it's very difficult to get excited BY the movie. The opening hour takes its time introducing us to every one of Koichi and Ryu's friends, as well as the brothers' extended family. Entire segments of the film are given over to a cake being made and people being mildly upset that its flavour is too mild - yes, it's THAT kind of movie. But when the kids set off on their quest, the fun kicks in, as a very inoffensive version of Stand By Me sees the kids encounter one humorous obstacle after another.
At least thirty minutes too long, I Wish will still keep your attention, thanks to great performances by the young stars. Koichi (Koki Maeda) is a wise-beyond-his-years kid who seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, while Ryu (Koki's real-life brother Ohshiro Maeda) will melt your heart with his endearing lust for life and his huge, eternal smile. But perhaps, like that cake, this movie is a little too light on flavour, and you might hope the volcano suddenly erupts just to pump a bit of excitement into proceedings.
Review by Rory Cashin | 10:28 | Wednesday 30th January 2013 | Movie Review