Wish You Were Here is not just another one of your average love story. Though the Japanese and Chinese co-produced film had romance in its storyline, there were many other aspects of the story that made it so intriguing.
It starts off with Yuan Yuan, a famous Chinese fashion designer being visited by a Japanese girl named Keiko. Keiko claims that she is studying fashion and requests to shadow Yuan Yuan, who took an immediate liking to her. It turns out that Keiko is Yuan’s long lost daughter, who was left in Hokkaido with her father and grandmother a few months after she was born. Though the two bond, Keiko goes back, unable to forgive her mother for leaving her in the first place. Yuan follows her daughter to Hokkaido for her 20th birthday – Seijinshiki – a traditional Japanese coming of age celebration.
Yuan was never able to make peace with the past that she had in Japan – the abuse from her mother in law, the marriage that fell apart with the love of her life, and the baby that she secretly aborted. She was never able to let go of her scars and her guilt. When Yuan is back in Hokkaido, she confesses what she had done and finally gets her long awaited closure.
The film was extremely unique in many different aspects. It was my first time watching a movie that had a combination of the Japanese and Chinese culture, casts, and language. The director, Kenneth Bi, did an amazing job making the two cultures flow so naturally together. Though the casts took turns speaking Japanese and Chinese, there was no feeling of discomfort and it was fairly easy to understand.
The movie also took a major plot twist that I had not anticipated at all. It is suggested that Keiko might just be an imagination and does not exist at all. I was taken aback and waited until it was confirmed, but the movie ended mysteriously, leaving us all shook and confused.
I sympathized with the movie even when it was just about Yuan Yuan and Keiko’s bond. I felt the bittersweet emotion of being reunited with your family, yet feeling the regret of all the years wasted that were spent apart. But I felt even more emotional when I realized that Keiko was just an imagination of what kind of daughter she would’ve had if Yuan had given birth. It was heartbreaking, and I think that it was something that a lot of women could relate to.