In the wake of their parent's divorce, 12-year-old Koichi (Koki Maeda) and his younger brother Ryunosuke (Ohshiro Maeda, Koki's real life brother) have been split up against their will. Koichi lives with his mother and grandparents in Kagoshima, in the shadow of a constantly rumbling volcano. Ryunosuke lives a comparatively spirited life with his rock-musician father in Fukuoka. But when Koichi discovers that a new bullet train line is due to open connecting the two towns, he determines that the intense energy generated by two trains passing in opposite directions will work a miracle, and their wish to be reunited will come true.
Following the divorce of their parents two brothers, living apart one with their mother and one their father, hear of the construction of a new bullet train that will link their separate towns and believe that, at the moment two trains pass one another on the new parallel tracks, a moment of magic will occur, granting wishes to any who ask them.
This absolutely beautiful movie is most unlike anything Hollywood could produce, renowned Japanese director and screenplay writer Hirokazu Koreeda takes what could have been an over sympathetic and unrealistic story and turns it into a touching coming of age piece in which the brothers learn that though magic may not exist it takes more than distance to keep them apart.
Moments of pure childlike innocence, such as the scene when, having scraped together enough money to purchase a train ticket, several children meet at the point of the train’s crossing and shout out the wishes they have carefully written on pieces of paper; or the images of Koichi sweeping the ever present volcanic dust from his home whilst feeling utterly lost as to why no one worries more about the constant rumbling of the mountain, will fill even the coldest of hearts with a soaring sense of pleasure. These moments of absolute gold put any fantastical magic to shame and it is apt then that Koreeda chooses to follow a more realistic narrative for the movie’s denouement.
Starring real life brothers Ohshirô and Koki Maeda this is an absolutely adorable movie about hope and joy; without the screen stealing performances of the Maeda brothers – who are both gorgeous and full of life – this movie would struggle greatly to capture the magic of childhood and would end on a note of disappointment when the magic of the bullet train is lost.
You rated this film: 5
Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Parental Guidance - general viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children