I Wish (奇跡)
WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.
Over the weekend I finally got to see I Wish (奇跡), the newest English release from my favorite Japanese director, Hirokazu Kore-eda (是枝裕和). This movie is set in Kyushu, and tells the story of two brothers separated due to their parents’ divorce (one up north in Fukuoka, one down south in Kagoshima). Now that all of Kyushu is connected by bullet train, the older brother had heard it said that if you are there at the moment when two shinkansen cross (in Kumamoto, where I was a JET), you can make a wish and it will come true.
The brothers (the talented Maeda siblings, pictured here with the director) come up with wishes of their own and are accompanied by friends when they make the journey for this purpose. The original Japanese title can also be translated as “miracle”, and for many of these wishes to be realized a miracle would be necessary. I will leave it to you to see if this happened or not, but I would definitely recommend this movie as an enjoyable journey for viewers to take.
I first fell in love with Kore-eda back in high school after seeing “Afterlife” (ワンダフルライフ) at the local arts cinema. At the time I was relatively unfamiliar with Japanese culture, but since learning the language and living over there I have come to appreciate his films on a deeper level. His later works have been emotionally heavy in their themes, such as Nobody Knows (誰も知らない) and Still Walking (歩いても歩いても), or deceptively light such as in the case of Air Doll (空気人形). No matter what he offers, you know that you are always in for something that is going to provoke you and make you think.
Kore-eda tends to work with a repeating cast of characters. For example, one of my favorite Japanese actors Hiroshi Abe (unforgettable in the hilarious 2006 Japanese television drama The Man Who Can’t Get Married or 結婚できない男) plays both the son in Still Walking and has a minor role as a teacher in I Wish. Yui Natsukawa (who is originally from Kumamoto) starred with Abe in the aforementioned drama, and plays his wife in Still Walking and the mother of one of the brother’s friends in I Wish. I was surprised not to see You who plays the daughter in Still Walking and the horrible mother in Nobody Knows in this one, but Joe Odagiri plays a great role as the boys’ father following his appearance in Air Doll. Here in New York you can find I Wish playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, so be sure to check it out before it goes!