In the poignant new drama from Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows, After Life), two families — one rich, one poor — discover that their sons were switched at birth.
Like Father, Like Son
Acclaimed Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-Eda took home the Jury Prize at Cannes for this poignant film that explores the age-old debate of nature versus nurture. Like Father, Like Son 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 live with their only child, Keita, in a modern Tokyo high-rise. 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. 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 Masaharu 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 lifestyle
choices are universal. Like Father, Like Son
reminds us that any definition of family
needs to be constructed around unconditional
love, first and foremost.
Special thanks to The Japan Foundation, Toronto.