2018 Honolulu International Film Festival Review: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here-

Background Info:

The 2018 Hawaii International Film Festival showed the screening of Wish You Were Here, on November 15th 2018. The film setting took place in Japan and China. The film was in both Japanese and Mandarin and provided English subtitles as well. Wish You Were Here was directed by Kenneth Bi and was a duration of 113 minutes. The theater was half full but held a very tentative crowd.

Summary of film:

The film first took place in Beijing where a young fashion student named Yuan Yuan attended school and met the love of her life. After graduating, Yuan Yuan and her boyfriend got married and returned to Hokkaido, Japan, where her husband’s father had fallen ill. Due to this, they stayed in Japan and he took over the family business of Sake making. Yuan Yuan became a housewife and stayed home with her mother in law. Yuan Yuan soon got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. As days went by her dreams of  becoming a fashion designer seemed like they were slipping away. She would use the storage room to design and put her ideas onto paper. However, her mother in law found out and everything changed from there. She packed up everything and tried to leave with her baby. However, her mother in law begged for her to leave the baby behind. While returning to Beijing, Yuan Yuan worked diligently to become a successful fashion designer and follow her dreams. She accomplished this goal and was an amazing designer who became very successful.


Later in her life, she got a visit from a fashion design student from Japan. She was very interested in Yuan Yuan’s designs. Soon enough, Yuan Yuan realized this fashion student from Japan was her daughter, Keiko. She told Keiko a story of how she was unhappy in Japan and needed to get away to pursue her dreams. Keiko became upset and left to go back to Japan. Maybe about three months later, Yuan Yuan returned back to Japan to see face to face with her husband and mother in law. She ran into her husband when she toured the Sake company and he was completely speechless to see her. He announced to the tour group that he was going to allow them to taste his new sake. One that he invented for someone who hetruly loved, but could not finish in time to show them. Yuan Yuan took a sip of the sake, and from there I knew she was still in love with him. But that is not the only person who was still in love; the way he stared at her and lost his words, I knew he still loved and cared for her. They went out for lunch and bonded over making sake and she finally met up with her mother in law to talk about why she left. However, things didn’t go as plan. She ended up breaking her husband’s heart when she told him she was pregnant when they were together, but had an abortion. Her mother in law knew the whole time because she found the pregnancy test Yuan Yuan took at the time. The whole illusion of her having a baby and giving birth to a little girl was Yuan Yuan’s imagination of what her life would have been if she had not aborted her baby. She imagined her daughter coming to find her in China one day. She imagined her being interested and involved in fashion just like her.

Short personal reaction:

I thought this movie was amazing. I loved it. I watched three other films at the Honolulu International Film Festival, and this was my favorite. Her imagination of her daughter, Keiko, was so real. I believed it the whole time until I realized her daughter was not real at the end. The image of her fading away towards the end of the film was a big hint to me. Yuan Yuan attended the coming of age ceremony for girls in Japan but she could not find her daughter. She was picturing Keiko in another young girl. I think that is also when I realized she did not actually have a daughter. I think this movie is very relatable to many people. Often times we imagine what our lives would be like if we did things differently. Yuan Yuan showed regret for aborting her baby. But at the time, it was what seemed right for her. She knew becoming a fashion designer was her dream career and she needed to accomplish that first.

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