Japanese Railways commissioned writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda to make I Wish as publicity for the Shinkansen bullet train. In response, the director of Still Walking” one of 2010’s best, delivered a cinematic poem.
Nothing much happens in this happy tribute to the gentle art of being human, unless you count a bunch of immensely likable kids taking a long trip on a bullet train, embarking from innocence to arrive at necessary knowledge of change, loss and death. It’s an exuberant yet tender journey, never descending into saccharine cuteness or manufactured melodrama.
Kore-eda’s slowly unfolding children’s tale vibrates with small, incremental revelations. The rhythm of the film is like breathing, the respirations of family life, old age, childhood — even of the Earth. When grandpa or grandson raises a finger to test which way a volcano’s ash is blowing that day, the two might be measuring the existential currents of I Wish, originally and better-titled Miracle.