This deeply charming, kid-centred film contains a multitude of perspectives to surprise and delight audiences from nine to ninety. Young Koichi (Maeda Koki) wishes for a miracle to bring his family back together. After his parents separated, he moved with his mother to his grandparents’ sweet shop on an island off the south of Japan. He doesn’t care for the sweets and he wouldn’t mind if the nearby volcano stopped filling the air with ash and actually did some real damage. Meanwhile, in the north, his little brother Ryu (Maeda Ohshiro, real-life brother and comic-act partner of Koki) is cheerfully falling in with the laid-back lifestyle of his indie musician father. But Koichi’s desire to wind back the clock is unstoppable. When he tells his little brother that the force field generated by two bullet trains passing in opposite directions confers miraculous powers on anyone positioned between them, Ryu surrenders to the plan to abscond and meet at the halfway point. Numerous friends, relations and strangers, wittingly or not, have roles to play in Koichi’s plan.
Director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s (Nobody Knows, Still Walking) trick is to clue us into the wishes, great and small, that propel each one of these players. It may sound hopelessly dreamy, but it’s not at all. It’s an amazingly insightful excursion into a child’s world of magical thinking, tender, wise and funny. — BG
“A simple tale, beautifully told… Kore-eda elicits pitch perfect performances from his entire cast. I walked out floating on a cloud for hours afterwards, grinning from ear to ear.” — Matthew Thrift, Sight & Sound