Wanting the best for his child and ensuring his success is a priority for Tokyo architect Ryota Nonomiya. Strict discipline, routines, piano lessons and immaculate presentation are part of life for six-year-old Keita as he is groomed to live up to his father’s expectations in this stirring drama.
Foundations are shaken when Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and wife Midori (Machika Ono) learn from a blood test that Keita is not related by birth to either of them. After further investigation it is discovered that two babies were switched at birth and the couple’s biological son, Ryusei, has been raised on the other side of town by repair-shop owners Yudai and Yukari Saiki, who also have two younger children.
The hospital authorities suggest the families meet somewhere in the middle and spend time together before engaging the boys in a series of visits at their respective homes with a view to making a permanent swap.
While the social status of the two families is as vastly different as their respective expectations for their children, each has invested time, resources and their own brand of love on their boys. The revelation about the switch disrupts the foundations of existing relationships yet also makes way for new ones to be laid.
Like Father, Like Son – which has won a number of awards, including best picture and best director at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at Canne – raises many questions. What does it take to be a father? Is nature or nurture more powerful? And what constitutes “family”?
Acclaimed director Koreeda Hirokazu approaches his controversial subject matter with a great deal of humanity and heart. The cinematography is well considered and offers intimacy and beauty, as does the performances of the children, which are captivating and steeped in innocence. This tender movie drives home a message of the innate power of patience and divine order.
© Patricia Herreen 2014