I Wish (Kiseki) is a 2011 independent Japanese film that captures human life so acutely it shocks the blandness of life into some kind of blissfully grateful smile. Hirokazu Koreeda is a masterful director and writer that is by far the greatest minimalist director in cinematic history. There are no effects in this movie, just story. I Wish is the story of a young boy whose parents divorce and move to different cities, he lives with mother and her parents but his brother lives with their free-spirited musician father.
The film to me is about human life; the powerful direction, unassuming dialogue, and emblematic soundtrack created by Japanese indie band Quruli are all ingredients in this perfect recipe. In the movie, the father asks his son that every person must choose between one passion or the world. The passion is defined as something that we would do anything for, a goal for the goal-oriented among us, or a wish that we would like to come true even if it were to hurt others. But in reality very little in life goes as we happen to plan; and happiness is not a plan but a journey. The movie shows that in order for the world to be appreciated on this journey of life we cannot anchor ourselves with all-consuming passions.
Inevitably it is not what the characters wish for, it is getting there; the train rides, new friends, adventures, and just running around. Isn’t that life? It is not about what you accomplished or what you hoped to accomplish, and it is never about some picture-perfect moment of happiness that we wait for indefinitely. Instead life is an inescapable journey where every step is preceded by another even if we are not ready for it; and the joy we take from each step demands we think only of this current step, not the past one thousand steps or the next one thousand steps.
I Wish has endearing characters that enlighten our lives with their simple story and warm the cockles of our hearts with their sincerity. It is not just a feel-good film but a feel-everything-again--smell-the-flowers-and-be-a-kid-again kind of film. If I was asked for one word to describe the movie I would say pure. It is pure in its depiction of life, and what it is like to be a kid; it is pure in the questions it poses and the answers it delivers; it is pure joy that you cannot help but cry. I Wish is a miracle in a modern world with rampant consumerism, materialism, violence, and individualism; it is a fresh and honest representation of our world in the eyes of hopeful children. And that is something we all have forgotten in our hurriedness to grow up and move on. Koreeda is a master director who does not depend on multi-million dollar budgets and big studio backing but makes movies with the same passion and dedication that Japanese artisans make traditional Karukan cake. Every character in the film has a wish and in some way every character moves on from that wish to absorb the journey before and after making that wish. This Kallipolitan favourite frees its audiences, just a bit and even if it is for the duration of the film; you feel free. Anchors away and we set sail, to what port? Nobody knows; we’ll just enjoy any miracles we get on the way. So what do I wish for? I wish that every single person gets to watch Kiseki and then make a wish.