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Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

This poignant new drama from acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda tells the heart wrenching story of two sets of parents whose worlds are turned upside down when they learn that their six-year-old sons were switched at birth.

Ryota and Midori Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama and Machiko Ono) live with their only child, Keita, in a modern Tokyo highrise. Ryota is an ambitious architect who puts in long hours climbing the corporate ladder. Midori is a loving, if docile, stay-at-home mother who carefully monitors Keita’s academic and cultural education. After discovering the truth about their son, the Nonomiyas suddenly find their lives populated with a whole new cast of characters. Their birth son, Ryusei, is being raised by the easygoing Yudai and Yukari Saiki (Lily Franky and Yoko Maki). In stark contrast to the Nonomiyas, the Saikis and their three children live in a modest apartment above the family’s appliance shop outside the city. While Keita practices piano before bedtime, Ryusei plays in the bath with his siblings and watches his father tinker with his toys. Both couples are hesitant to force an abrupt environmental and emotional change on their families, but soon engage in socialization, including swapping boys on weekends.

Like the work of a seasoned symphony conductor, Kore-Eda’s direction is at once gentle and powerful, favouring small, tender moments over a single dramatic incident. Japanese pop star Fukuyama delivers a moving performance as the reserved Ryota, whose soul searching about what it means to be a father lies at the heart of the film. Although framed in a Japanese cultural context, the questions Kore-Eda poses around parenthood and “nature versus nurture” are universal. Like Father, Like Son reminds us that any definition of family needs to be constructed around unconditional love, first and foremost.

 

Critical Notes

"Evoking naturalistic performances from everyone involved, and with a welcome dose of humor, along with the requisite humanity he’s known for, Kore-Eda’s film is a touchingly low key, a wholly charming study of the evolution of parenthood." - Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

"This is a relentlessly quiet character study that is photographed with Zen remove and scored metronomically to Bach and Beethoven, each scene clipped to the barest essentials." - Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

 

Film Information

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Cast:: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, YĆ“ko Maki 
Year: 2013
Runtime: 120 minute 
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
Distributor: Mongrel Media
Ratings: ON NR / BC NR / AB NR / SK NR / MB NR / QC NR / Maritmes NR

 

Screenings

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* Represents an approximate date. Please consult local listings.