Like Father Like Son Review

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Air Doll, Nobody Knows) Like Father, Like Son is a moving study on parent–child relationships and attitudes about raising children. Probing the “nature vs. nurture” debate, Kore-eda explores the question through this touching story of two boys whose families discover their six-year-old sons were switched at birth.

The Nonomiyas, are a quiet, single child, upper-class Japanese family. Their home is run on the principle of love and discipline, as they groom their son Keita (Keita Ninomiya), for future success. Ryota Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) is firmly steeped in the tradition of high ambition and financial success as the most important goals in life. The Saiki’s are working-class shop-owners with three children, in their home work and achievement are secondary to family and enjoying life. Seemingly polar opposites, these families would probably never have occasion to meet, however, one phone call will change this forever. The hospital they were born at has discovered through a routine blood test that the two boys, Keita and Ryusei, were switched at birth. The hospital informs the families that although the proceedings from this point forward are up to them, all prior families faced with this situation have chosen to switch the children, permanently returning each child to their biological parents. The two families are given mere months to make their decision.

Both families are shocked, initially horrified at the prospect of giving up the son they have raised for the past six years. However, with this new knowledge comes a new perspective and many questions. As we watch the families struggle with how to deal with the situation we also see the boys caught in the crossfire, totally ill-equipped to deal with the complexity of the situation, especially as no one will explain it to them.

Like Father, Like Son is a beautiful meditation on the meaning of family. Kore-eda captures the intimate moments and emotional subtlety with great skill. Other cast includes; Yoko Maki (Lily Franky), Masaharu Fukuyama (Yudai Saiki), Machiko Ono (Yukari Saiki) and Ryota Nonomiya (Midori Ono). The performances are exceptional, in particular from the children.

Both lovely to watch and thought provoking, Like Father, Like Son has garnered awards from film festivals all over the world. Screening at TIFF, it won the People’s Choice Award at VIFF, the grand Jury Prize in Cannes, and Best Film and Best Director at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.


– Astrid Handling

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