Ryota is a successful workaholic businessman. When he learns that his biological son was switched with another boy after birth, he faces the difficult decision to choose his true son or the boy he and his wife have raised as their own.
Would you choose your natural son, or the son you believed was yours after spending 6 years together? Kore-eda Hirokazu, the globally acclaimed director of "Nobody Knows", "Still Walking" and "I Wish", returns to the big screen with another family - a family thrown into torment after a phone call from the hospital where the son was born... Ryota has earned everything he has by his hard work, and believes nothing can stop him from pursuing his perfect life as a winner. Then one day, he and his wife, Midori, get an unexpected phone call from the hospital. Their 6-year-old son, Keita, is not 'their' son - the hospital gave them the wrong baby. Ryota is forced to make a life-changing decision, to choose between 'nature' and 'nurture.' Seeing Midori's devotion to Keita even after learning his origin, and communicating with the rough yet caring family that has raised his natural son for the last six years, Ryota also starts to question himself: has he really been a 'father' all these years....Written by
Two families learn the devastating news that their sons were swapped in the maternity hospital, and each has been raising the other's biological offspring for the last six years. In trying to solve this unholy mess, one father has to face his own vulnerabilities.
Koreda has one again taken his scalpel to family life and crafted a masterpiece. Fukuyama as the driven, high-achieving Ryota is a revelation, an advocate of the tough love school of child-rearing, who never wastes an opportunity to tell his son he should be trying harder, succeeding more. One word - 'yappari' - reveals his disappointment and ultimate lack of humanity, and proves to be a pivotal statement in his journey to self-awareness.
Two archetypal elements of on-form Koreeda make this move a masterclass in dramaturgy. One is the sparkling, naturalistic performances from the children. When Ryota tries to explain to his biological son that he now should be addressing him as 'father', the stubborn, implacable resistance of the young actor is deftly played. There is a similar moment when Ryota confronts his tormentor, only for her young son to appear and remind Ryota of the kind of son he should have been himself. The other element is judicious deployment of point-of-view. Four parents go through this traumatic experience, but while the gravity of the situation for the other three parents is never in doubt, the journey we experience is Ryota's. He learns not only to love, but to accept, and even, in one phone call to his stepmother, to repent. Rirî Furankî is exceptional as electrician handyman Yudai. At first he seems more concerned with financial gain than natural justice, but slowly proves himself to be the better father. The fact that he is never shown suffering over the loss of his own biological son, and yet seems imbued with the humanity Ryota lacks, is testament to Furanki's performance and Koreeada' scripting and helming. Machiko Ono and Yôko Maki as the two wives who support each other are equally impressive.
The situation portrayed is every parent's nightmare, and the film succeeds in conveying that, while also mining a deep vein of humanity and compassion, and even managing a few comic flourishes. Superb.
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