The 10 best films of 2013
Continuing our countdown of the best movies of the past year, Xan Brooks pays tribute to a joyous Japanese tale about the consequences of fractured family relations
Tuesday 10 December 2013 09.41 GMT
I Wish was released without fanfare in the midst of Oscar season. It came tip-toeing in from the sidelines to spin a tale of everyday magic and remind us that miracles can happen, if we can only be bothered to put ourselves in their path. It was the year's most purely joyous picture, dappled with warmth and wit and mystery. If it passed you by, you've got a treat in store.
Written and directed by the Japanese film-maker Kore-eda Hirokazu (who would later go on to make the sweeter, less substantial Like Father, Like Son), I Wish is a story of divorce and its consequences, corralling a set of scattered characters and showing how they are all connected by "a thread you cannot see". Koichi and Ryu (played by siblings Koki and Oshiro Maeda) are the children of a broken home, each parcelled off to a different parent and now living in separate cities. Both boys, however, are to be galvanised by an urban legend about the mystical force that is supposedly unleashed at the point where two speeding bullet trains intersect. Dreams come true and shattered pieces are made whole and new. The brothers and their friends need no further encouragement. They yomp out to the railroad and shout their wishes to the wind.
Do the wishes come true? Are the brothers reunited? To tell you that wouldn't simply spoil the ending; it would also risk undercutting the airy, rambunctious spirit of the movie itself. Suffice to say that Hirokazu is more interested in the magic of hope than the fairytale finish. His speeding trains bring the boys together, while at the same time reminding us that they (and their friends, and perhaps the rest of us too) are merely passing through, zipping off on their own tracks across the world. Koichi and Ryu are linked by their place on the embankment and by their high-pitched voices raised as one. They are young and resilient and confident of a miracle. And this, Hirokazu suggests, is surely magic enough.