I Wish


Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    May 30, 2012
    The brothers Maeda are pure gold; the film captures what feels like effortless joy in their lives, and it is never something they seem to be reaching for.
  2. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    May 10, 2012
    Kore-eda does extraordinary work with his young cast, who deliver gentle, natural performances in a beautifully told story of heartbreak and hope. Deceptively modest and utterly lovely, it's one of the most magical films about childhood I have ever seen.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 12, 2012
    The marvelous Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda shows a strong affinity for the humors and longings of childhood. It's an adult movie about children that feels made from the inside out.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    May 10, 2012
    This wise and funny film, in Japanese with English subtitles, works small miracles in depicting the pivotal moment when kids turn from the wishfulness of childhood into shaping the world for themselves.
  5. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    May 24, 2012
    Kore-eda, deploying a Western pop score by the Japanese indie-rock band Quruli, just lets these kids be kids.
  6. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    May 24, 2012
    This is much too buoyant a movie for tragedy. But Koreeda's achievement is that he gives us children who might weigh more, emotionally, than their parents, yet they're still these little creatures learning how to wield and bear that weight.
  7. 70
    Koreeda's compositions have a sympathetic detachment that Americans rarely value but is, for many Japanese, the whole point of art. That means you can contemplate the wonder in these glowing young faces without feeling as if you're on an intravenous drip of corn syrup.
  8. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    May 10, 2012
    I Wish tends toward the vaporous and not just because of its volcano; but whenever its children are on screen, lighted up with joy or dimmed by hard adult truths, the film burns bright.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 12, 2012
    A wonderful adventure film that's no less thrilling for its modest scale, and a film whose emotional power and intelligence sneak up on you.
  10. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 26, 2012
    Along the way, Koichi and Ryunosuke grow up a little bit; Kore-eda isn't opposed to letting reality intrude on their lives. It's not sad, but more wistful -- the young actors make it so. They are delightful. So, too, is I Wish.
  11. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    May 9, 2012
    I Wish is still amply Kore-eda-esque, full of life, heart, and funny little details about daily existence, as it meanders its way toward moments of real profundity.
  12. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 22, 2012
    Like a train, I Wish is slow to build momentum, then it carries us away in a wondrous rush.
  13. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    May 5, 2012
    This tale of two elementary-school brothers plotting to end the physical separation their parents' divorce has forced on them effortlessly pulls off the naturalism and charm desired from material that might have easily curdled into calculated preciousness.
  14. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 7, 2012
    I Wish embraces blissful ignorance, even celebrating its child characters' naivete.
  15. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    May 10, 2012
    There is a lot of hope in the air in I Wish, but the film never feels sappy. The very appealing score by the Japanese indie-rock group Quruli brings a kind of upbeat energy that matches the clean, open style of director of photography Yutaka Yamazaki, a frequent Kore-eda collaborator.
  16. Reviewed by: Michael Nordine
    May 7, 2012
    I Wish has a tough time balancing the heartfelt with the saccharine and too often feels slight.
  17. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    May 31, 2012
    The vignettes are linked as much by theme as story, yet they're carefully structured and delicately balanced.
  18. Reviewed by: Chris Benderev
    May 11, 2012
    When you're young, there's just so much to misunderstand about the world. And isn't that kind of what makes it such fun?
  19. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    May 8, 2012
    I Wish makes us feel like we are watching these kids discover each new sensory pleasure of youth for the first time, or that we're experiencing it ourselves.
  20. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    May 5, 2012
    A delightful and uplifting study of kids and families by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Dec 22, 2012
    The ending was a bit disappointing (although you could argue that's exactly the point) and overall the film is a little too much on the sugaryThe ending was a bit disappointing (although you could argue that's exactly the point) and overall the film is a little too much on the sugary side (especially the irritatingly cute music), but it's a very solid, smart feel-good story, and that in itself is worth celebrating. There's quiet joy in watching these real-life situations unfold before your eyes. It's not as subtly devastating as Still Walking, but Kore-eda delivers once again. Full Review »
  2. Jul 23, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Although divorces in Japan continue to be rare, relatively speaking, by western standards, the current rate now stands above 2%, a figure that was unheard of when Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story wowed international audiences around the world. The 1953 film about a provincial old couple's pilgrimage to the big city provokes sympathy for the mother and father, who are so frail, so gentle, and yet are treated so badly by their urbanized son and daughter. Since Koichi, a doctor, and Shige, a beautician, are so frugal when it comes to spending time and money on the aging parents, they delegate their filial duties to a widowed sister-in-law, who seemingly loves them the best, despite not being a blood relative. Somewhat shocking for Japanese, the adult children don't respect their elders, especially the father, just like Biff and Happy, who barely tolerate their old man, Willy Loman, in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Miller invites the audience to loathe Willy, whereas Shukishi is mostly purviewed as a sympathetic figure, despite being a drunkard and womanizer in his prime, as was Loman. In the bar, we see for ourselves, as aforementioned by Tomi, how Shukishi can really throw back the sake. Joined by his imbibing companions, an old friend notices how a barmaid resembles the geisha they once knew. Did his children know? Biff knew. Biff, the golden boy, who didn't live up to a father's expectations, just like Koichi, a mere "small neighborhood doctor". When Shukishi arrives at the beauty parlor in an inebriated state, the oldest daughter, for all intents and purposes, is being treated to a reenactment of her childhood. When Shige, in an earlier scene, pokes fun at her mother's weight, cruelly dredging up an old story about how her heft once broke a chair, you see her latent anger rise to the surface, in regard to a possibly horrid childhood. A grudge, unfairly held against a mother, whose daughter should know that divorce wasn't a social norm so easily practiced back in post-war Japan. But times have changed. Koki and Ohshiro are the children of a broken home in I Wish, the children of parents who, unlike generations past, are no longer adhered to outmoded concepts like shame, where divorce is concerned, and leave their marital problem unreconciled. This modern Japan, to a small degree, can be glimpsed in Good Morning, Ozu's 1959 film about two brothers who acquire a television set of their own by giving mom and dad the silent treatment. Unusual for its time, when fathers wielded control over his domain, the children get their way. The Americanization of the Japanese character through a western signifier like the television, in a sense, directly influences the broken marriage in I Wish, as another American institution, rock and roll, and its main symbol, the electric guitar, tears a family apart, when Kenji chooses a music career over his domestic obligations. Over dinner, the mother's tear-stained protestation over her husband's egocentric trajectory go unheeded. Rather than subjugate herself to a man's whim though, she calls it quits, and rejects the precarious future often associated with being a struggling musician's wife; a woman who would have to make do without the amenities of middle-class respectability. Women in Japan, arguably, have come a longer way than their American analogues. Not once does Kyoko's mother encourage her daughter to acquiesce toward Kenji's bohemian inclinations. Her wish is granted, vicariously. The mother, quite pointedly, gets in a subtle dig at her husband, when she apologizes to Kyoko for not having enough money to stave off the daughter's necessity to find work, implying that the woman married badly: a drinker. Similarly, in Tokyo Story, Noriko, married only in the abstract sense to Shoji, a soldier at war, missing in action and presumed dead, is still expected to mourn the old couple's son like a dutiful wife, a limbo state created by the trappings of customary tradition. She can't even divorce a ghost. Finally, prior to Tomi's sudden death, while in Tokyo, the mourning period is lifted from the in-laws, a directive seconded by Shukishi after the funeral, just before Noriko leaves for the train station. Lauded by the old man for her loyalty, it's more than a humble mien that causes Noriko to deflect his praise. For enduring the same bad behavior, passed down from father to son, the widow is congratulated, sojourning on as she did like any good Japanese wife, seemingly, without complaint. But did Noriko wish for a divorce? The widow confesses, "Really, I'm quite selfish," but she didn't have the same liberties as Kyoko, the same freedom to pack a suitcase as retaliation for a husband's shortcomings. In I Wish, the brothers use the metaphysics of passing trains to reunite their parents, whereas Kyoko's father bakes karukan cakes, as a way of turning back time, when a man's actions were sacrosanct. They wish. Full Review »