Drama featured

Reel Asian Review: ‘Wish You Were Here’

November 20, 2018Sherry Li

Wish You Were Here, from director Kenneth Bi, is a bilingual Japanese/Chinese film that explores motherhood, family and reconciliation, and which feels raw and honest in its emotions.

Yuan Yuan, a famous Chinese fashion designer, meets Keiko, a young Japanese student, in Beijing at her fashion showcase. Quickly, Yuan Yuan takes Keiko under her wing and opens up to her about her past in Japan — where 20 years earlier, she left her husband and family behind to pursue her dreams. Finally, Yuan Yuan returns back to Hokkaido to reunite with the man she once loved, and to see the daughter she left behind in her coming-of-age ceremony.

The result is beautiful, with clean, contemporary visuals and a storyline that feels timeless. The complexity of family relationships trying to balance modern values with tradition and the love that remains underneath it all is wonderfully explored through Bi's direction and the fantastic cinematography. Wish You Were Here is visually stunning, and takes advantage of its soundtrack and strong acting to evoke plenty of emotions, a sense of familiarity and peace, as well as feelings of nostalgia.

Wish You Were Here makes its North American premiere at the 2018 Reel Asian Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 53 min.

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