‘I Wish’ (2011) stars real life brothers (and prodigal comedy duo in their native Japan) Koki Maeda and Oshiro Maeda, who play siblings separated by divorce. They each live with their mother and father respectively and the film depicts the childhood nuances of a long hot summer punctuated by phone calls to each other as they plot to reunite under the guise of an urban legend. The brothers, along with their friends, plan to travel to a rail intersection where high-speed bullet trains cross at a particular time in order to make a wish.

The film, written and directed by Hiozaku Koreenda, is a heartfelt but never cloying depiction of childhood handled with the kind of sensitivity and naturalism Hollywood never seems to get quite right anymore. The film switches between the brothers, infiltrating their home life and their wider circle of friends, as they play, discuss and work out what their ‘wish’ is before they travel to find a miracle.

It is very easy to emotionally manipulate an audience when divorce and cute children are involved, but ‘I Wish’ goes for understated, and it is the naturalism of the situation that makes for a far more touching viewing experience then any heavy handedness or melodrama. Ryuunosuke played by Oshiro, lives with a guitar wielding bohemian father and surrounds himself with the company of girls. He is the happy go lucky brother who realises his parents' separation is for the best and although the father leads a lifestyle which could easily have lead to a neglected child sequence, or a transition in which the father quits his Rock & Roll ways in favour of more stability, Ryuunosuke is shown as being incredibly content.

He is active in helping with the band, collecting door money and advising them on their songs, taking care of himself like a little adult. If anything this film is an ode to how much we underestimate the wisdom of children, as well as how differently they view the world.

Goichi played by Koki is the older, and more sensitive brother, the artistic one who longs for life to return to the way it was. He lives with his mother and grandparents, and his childhood hopes and dreams are echoed in his grandfather’s urge to restart a sweet company, showing that dreams are not just for children. You don’t always need to grow out of them. The film builds towards the journey to find a miracle, with much hilarious farce taking place in order to get them to that intersection.

It is like ‘Stand by Me,’ without the darkness, as it lacks unnecessary tragedy but is still exceptionally touching, letting the characters build and breathe so the affection we feel for them is not based on a short cut. All the children have their own story to tell, from the wish to be an actress to the wish for the resurrection of a pet, and their kid logic seems far more sensible then some of the adults. The trip to the train brings them together, but it’s the journey that is the most important as their zest for life touches all they meet. Overall this film is a wonderful mediation on childhood filled with quiet effective moments, and a feeling of elation you carry with you long after viewing.