The youth focus of Koji Hagiuda's SHINDO (WONDER CHILD) is on that certain age, around 13 years old, where young people first start to gain a sense of who they are, where they come from, and who they eventually want to be. It's a difficult time and can be a painful process since the youths in question aren't quite able to verbally express their situation. Instead SHINDO uses the musical talents of his young male and female characters as way of showing how they know instinctively when something feels right for them. It may not quite be an original idea, but it does perhaps have specific Japanese application here in the additional pressure to succeed placed on children from a very young age. Hitting the right note. Finding a chord that resonates and harmonises with the world surrounding you. SHINDO finds good expression for the situation of 13 year-old Uta Naruse in her piano playing. Uta is a gifted and an award-winning young pianist, but she has no interest in developing her talent. Unable to fit in, she is bullied at school and, with her father dead and her mother is finding it difficult to pay bills, Uta is feeling the pressure to succeed. Her interest in the piano is revived when she meets Wao Kikuna, a young boy with the drive and determination to be a great pianist, but with none of the natural skill of Uta. The film works best when it operates on this instinctive and non-verbal musical level to express the situation of its young characters, but it feels a little more forced when it tries to relate them to romantic attraction, to personal disagreements and to specific incidents in Uta's past. It's specifically her relationship with her father, also a gifted pianist who died young that comes to dominate the storyline and SHINDO takes a turn into something quite different and a little less satisfactory when events force Uta to make a decision. Essentially however, the attraction of the film's theme of being at one with music, with life and oneself comes through. Just breathe it and let it run through you.