After their parents separate, two young brothers spend their time on the phone to one another, dreaming of a way to be reconciled. When it is announced that the famous Bullet Train will connect their two cities, it seems that they have found their answer.
There is something sweet and warm about I Wish. Do you remember the days when you would wish on dandelion clocks and have utter faith that your wishes would come true? Well this is pretty much the story of the film; only the mechanism for the wish is two bullet trains crossing paths.
Real life brothers Koki and Oshiro Maeda play Goichi and Ryu respectively. It is obvious that the boys’ real life connection stands them in good stead for the film, but they also make strong connections with the actors around them. Oshiro Maeda is an absolute delight. He appears to be filled with glee at his every day life, but when he admits that he is pretending and misses his brother, it is a truly emotive moment.
Nene Otsuka and Joe Odagiri play the boys parents, and while they have little time on screen together, it is clear that their ‘time apart’ is upsetting for their children, but while the adults miss the kids, there is no love lost between them. Otsuka has a fantastic scene where she talks with her younger son for the first time in months and breaks down. Odagiri is more restrained, and often appears surprised that there is a wise and matter of fact child in his life.
Where the film suffers, however, is in its running time. At 128 minutes, there are large swathes of time where nothing really happens. Even though the boys plan their journey to make their wish, it takes them a long time to decide to go, and even longer to get the money together. If the film had been cut down to 90 minutes, it would have been easy to describe it as a tonal mix between The Goonies and Labyrinth (without the magic), but as it stands it is still charming, but drawn out and rather thin.
I Wish has a sweet story at its core, but this is lost in a jumble of admittedly heart warming scenes, that serve to draw out the story and delay what little gratification the film offers.