Hirokazu Koreeda's Nobody Knows (2004) is one of the saddest films ever made about childhood, but his latest, I Wish, feels like the optimistic flipside to that picture. The Japanese director is once again exploring fractured family ties, but the young siblings in I Wish know how to bring their estranged parents together: with a wish made as two bullet trains pass each other.
It's a perfect story for Koreeda, allowing him to display his keen sense of character, his ability to coax utterly beguiling performances from children, and his unfailing knack for making a deeply affecting film without resorting to cheap sentimentality. I Wish is completely in sync with its young lead characters, superbly showing us the adult world filtered through their perspective, and the apparent simplicity of this children's fable cunningly disguises enormous depths of heart and wisdom. We all spend so much time yearning for films as good as this, and to this reviewer at least, the latest great work from Hirokazu Koreeda is pure wish-fulfilment.