Movie Review: 'I Wish' -- 3 stars
Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring Koki Maeda and Ohshiro Maeda
Hirokazu Koreeda's "I Wish" earns its place in the long, rich tradition of top-notch naturalistic dramas centered on seminal childhood experiences. Joining past classics such as Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows," Lasse Hallstrom's "My Life as a Dog" and countless others, Koreeda's latest displays his rare cinematic gift for evoking powerful currents of loss and longing amid subtle, lingering traumas.
The film is centered on 12-year-old Koichi (Koki Maeda) and his younger brother Ryunosuke (Ohshiro Maeda, Koki's real life sibling), who haven't seen each other in months. Their parents' divorce has driven them apart - Koichi and their mother live in northern Japan; Ryunosuke and their father live in the south. The brothers speak regularly and long for a chance to reunite.
Koreeda offers an observational take on the boys' lonely lives that forgoes conventional plotting and narrative structures for a wistful, poignant evocation of the hopes and frustrations of youth. It's set at that key moment in life when the realities of the adult world impinge on and irrevocably alter the optimism of one's younger years.
The filmmaker lets scenes unfold at an unhurried clip, giving full breath to his stars' staggeringly mature performances. The approach fosters a patient, reflective mood that offers a challenging cinematic experience, but one that lingers in your mind.