Kiseki // I Wish (2011, Japan)
Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda
Screenplay: Hirokazu Koreeda
Aithne's rating: 8,5/10
Aniel's rating: 8,5/10
Aniel: What did we watch?
Aithne: We watched a very nice movie called... I Wish in English , but it's originally Japanese and it's called Kiseki. It was movie by Hirokazu Koreeda, who's slowly becoming my... He's definitely already one of my favourite directors and he's, I think, slowly becoming my absolutely favourite one.
Aniel: I have to agree that for Japanese directors he's definitely in my top two. The other one being Kurosawa.
Aithne: Oh, I can't say too much about Kurosawa, I've seen only one movie by him... But as for Koreeda, I really love it in his movies that... The way he portrays Japan in there. We've both been to Japan and... Usually when you watch these movies where the action takes place in Japan it's like... As for Japanese movies, I think we've seen mostly older ones - and Japan changed a lot during past 40 years or so, so it's like a completely different country, completely different feeling when you watch it. As for the present movies... How to call it? It just feels different. And if it's a person from outside Japan making the movie then, of course, it has to be Tokyo, it has to be the big crossroads in Shibuya and this whole very stereotypical image. But what Koreeda is portraying is really the Japan I remember. Even if it takes place in a completely different city, it still feels like if it was Kyoto.
Aniel: So we can already tell something about the setting and the story from it. It's placed in present times...
Aithne: ...it's not Tokyo...
Aniel: ...yeah, it alternates between Kagoshima and Fukuoka, I guess...
Aithne: ... I guess yes. So it's in Kyushu, not the main island of Japan but a bit more southern one. And they have a volcano in there, Sakura-jima.
Aniel: It was in Kagoshima, right?
Aithne: Yes, in Kagoshima.
Aniel: And what is the thread of the story?
Aithne: Well, it seems to me that the story is just a pretext, a reason to make this movie, not the most important thing in there... The main story is about a young boy - a very young boy, he's still in primary school; I think he said he's going to junior high next year, so he's 11 or 12. His parents are divorced and, which is quite weird for Japan, he lives just with his mum and her family, while his father and his younger brother live together in Fukuoka. And... It starts with some Japanese class, when the teacher asks all the kids to write a short essay about their fathers' jobs. Then one of the students says that the boy, Koichi, doesn't have a father. The teacher asks what it means and the boy says that, well, his father is alive, but they are betsu betsu, they live seperately. And the boy is really unhappy about it. He misses his father, he misses his younger brother... And then, one day, his two best friends are talking about a planned opening of a new line of shinkansen - the... How was it translated? The super bullet train? Well, basically there's going to be a new line of shinkansen going to Kagoshima. And those two boys say that when the two super fast bullet trains meet each other on the way - one going from Kagoshima and the other one going to Kagoshima - then there's so much energy that...
Aniel: ... you can make a wish!
Aithne: You can make a wish. That there's a miracle happening. That's what the title originally means, kiseki means a miracle. So, a miracle happens... and if you make a wish then, then it's going to come true. So this boy, Koichi, gets really excited about this idea and he wants to plan his journey, to see where those trains are going to pass each other for the first time and make his wish for his family to reunite.
Aniel: Yeah, I think this is the core of the storyline...
Aithne: ...well, Koichi shares this idea with his friends, with his younger brother, his brother shares it with his friends, so in the end there are like 10 kids going there, everyone hoping for their own wish. One girl wants to be an actress, the other one wants the 'relaxed education' to come back, so that she wouldn't have to study, because she hates it, another boy wants... No, this would be a spoiler... Yeah, that's it.
Aniel: Well, I think this is probably enough to know what the setting or the core is about. Maybe... What you mentioned before: the atmosphere. This is really awesome. I mean, I think what Koreeda does awesomely well is that he puts it all in a very realistic way. My impression is that he's just observing. And he's a very, very good observer. He just puts life on screen without really trying to put into it too much of himself.
Aithne: I absolutely agree with you. And, there are those two types of shots and both are exactly the same precious to me. One is shots at home, which is a kind of experience we've never had. I mean, we were invited a couple of times to a Japanese home, but we've never lived there, with a Japanese family. And, you know, Japanese houses are always surrounded by big fences, you can't really see through it, so it's like a completely closed world. So this is something... Wow. I can see what's inside! While when they go outside, when they go on the streets... Then it doesn't matter that we've been to Kyoto and this is Fukuoka or Kagoshima, it's just... Aaaah, I've been there! This is so cool.
I don't even know how to describe it. I think it's about the details... Like this water in I Wish. We were drinking this water, buying it in this pharmacy by Kamo-gawa!
Aniel: So, coming slowly to the end of our talk...
Aithne: ...basically, I would say that the movie was great.
Aniel: I basically agree. I think for people who have never seen or dealt with Japanese movies this is a total, 100% recommendation. It's just awesome.
Aithne: I would also say that from the 3 movies by Koreeda I've seen this is also the most optimistic one. Even in Aruitemo, aruitemo (Still Walking) there were those little, malicious pins... And I Wish is just such a beautiful expression of you childhood dreams and the power of believing. I would say that if you are interested in Japan and you'd like to see a movie which would show you the real Japan, without the stereotypes, to really feel how it is in there - then watch this one. Because this is really how it feels. We know it.
So, how many stars go to I Wish? To Kiseki?
Aniel: I would give... 8,5.
Aithne: Yeah. Me too. And I was really thinking of giving a nine. I don't know how could you make it better.
Aniel: But - and this is the only thing - for people who like movies which have a clear message or a clear storyline... They might not enjoy it so much. It's not stressed too much in here. This is the only thing. But for the rest - it's an outstanding movie.
Aithne: Absolutely agreed.