Like Father, Like Son (2013)
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The actors in this film are great, not only Masaharu Fukuyama as father but also the young actors who play Keita and Ryusei. Koreeda always works well with kids. Keita is so adorable. The film handles the conflict very realistically and well reflects how the way of upbringing have influence on the children. It is quite emotional at the end of the film, so be prepared you may shed some tears.
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.
Ryoko and Midori Nonomiya are a well-to-do couple who had a sweet 6-year old son, Keita. Yukari and Yudai Saiki are a lower middle-class couple with a spirited 6-year old son, Ryusei. One day, they get news that a nurse had switched their sons with each another one at the hospital. With that shocking revelation, both families undergo an emotional ordeal in deciding how to settle their big problem in the best possible way for everyone concerned.
Writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda decides to tell the story from the point of view of Ryoko, a driven man at work who was disappointed that his son Keita was not as competitive nor independent as he wanted. When he gets the chance to be father to Ryusei as well, Ryoko discovers that his concept of fatherhood might not be as ideal as he thought.
Koreeda sets the contrasting dichotomy a bit too sharply. The Nonomiya home is sedate, quiet, and darkly lit. The Saiki home is messy, noisy and brightly lit. Ryoko (Masaharu Fukuyama)is handsome and smartly- dressed, but he is serious and haughty. Yukari (Riri Furanki) is homely and shoddily-dressed, but he is cheerful and kind. Which kind of father do you think the boys will prefer?
The important message of this film will definitely resonate with all fathers who watch this film. Fathers will reflect on their own parenting style and on what kind of father he had been. This film deserves all the praise heaped upon it. It is about time fatherhood is discussed very well in a film.
The two sets of parents are in two different social sectors. One comprises a middle-class go-getter corporate achiever father and a mother who came originally from a more humble a rural background but has since turned middle-class. The other set of parents is more grass-root: father a small shop owner, a handyman good at repairing broken things and the mother a fast food server well-equipped with worldly common sense. The switched kids, now 6-years-old, reflect their respective upbringing in their "adopted" (involuntarily) families. The kid brought up in the more affluent family, the only child, is introvert and somewhat timid as the result of a dominating father (and passive mother). The kid at the more grass-root family is cheerful and outgoing, due also to the fact that he has younger siblings (which nobody knew were non-blood-related until the hospital dropped the bombshell, so to speak).
From my brief description of the plot line above, one can imagine how mesmerizing a movie can be crafted. This is indeed what Hirokazu Koreeda did, in his inimitable languid style. He takes his time in developing the characters and it take some time before the audience to falls in love with the grass-rooted couple in their worldly wisdom. My earlier depiction probably painted a misleading visual picture of the grass-root mother, who is actually the prettier and younger-looking of the two. The rapport of the two mothers, mainly at her initiation, providing support to the emotionally weaker one, is quite touching. The grass-root father, who started out not too favorably, develops into quite a darling while it takes some time for the middle-class and somewhat snobbish father to turn around and become likable. The two kids are wonderful, capably projecting their respective persona as described above.
This is a movie not to be missed, particularly for the loyal followers of Hirokazu Koreeda's work, but also for anyone who enjoys the Japanese cinema at large.
Similar to the recent 'Kiseki (I Wish)', 'Like Father, Like Son' focuses on the lives of two young boys and their unconventional relationships with their parents. While, 'Kiseki' looked at the lives of two brothers, separated by the parents' divorce, 'Like Father, Like Son' looks at the lives of two unrelated boys who, after a hospital mix-up, were raised by a random couple. The mix-up coming out years later, once the boys have started to develop, leaves both sets of parents unsure as to how to proceed.
'Kiseki' looked very much at the lives of the young brothers and how they work behind their parents' backs to be reunited, only to learn the hard way that things have now changed. In his latest effort, Kore-eda focuses very much on the parents, particularly the straight-edged, hard- working salary man, Ryota, who is forever baffled by his son's meagre talent and work ethic in comparison to his own. His equivalent, Yudai, raising his biological son, has a more relaxed approach to life, raising his son in a loving, family environment.
Naturally, the polarised approaches of the two males to life and parenting is a clear plot device to make the inevitable life-lesson learnt more poignant by the film's conclusion, and perhaps a slightly more idealistic scenarios for the story. However, much like his previous works, Kore-eda offers no easy solutions. Torn between the boy he has raised and loves and his blood, Ryota looks to all possible permutations for a solution to situation, but each presents its own problems.
The family situation presented is one of blood versus upbringing, with Ryota convinced that blood signifies everything - an important aspect of Japanese culture, where blood-type can be thought to determine various aspects of one's life - and as such looks at an interesting aspect of Japanese culture, and while a strong effort, it never quite matches the nostalgia of 'After Life', the detachment of 'Nobody Knows' or the coming of age of 'Keseki'. But here, Kore-eda again affirms that there is a case for himself as the heir to Ozu's title. Fifty years on since the latter's death, the former tackles the changes of a different time, with more and more unconventional relationships and post-modern family structures. Where Ozu looked at emerging female independence ('Late Autumn'), Kore-eda looks at a love doll developing a soul ('Air Doll'). The times have changed, but like father, like son.
He reconsiders his posture after-wards and what it seems to have disgraced both families comes across as an important opportunity to reconsider one's views in life and one's priorities.
Very recommendable movie.
Ryota Nanomiya is a successful architect who, while loves his family, spends too much time at work. One day, his wife, Midori, gets a call from the hospital where Keita, their son, was born. Soon they find out that a six-year old mistake caused their child to be swapped at birth with another. This leads Ryota and Midori to start getting more acquainted with the other family involved in this situation. All the while wondering whether they should keep, or re-swap the children.
The script for Like Father, Like Son was absolutely tremendous. The story itself is brilliant and captivating; you can't help but feel absorbed in the lives of everyone involved. This wouldn't be possible without great characters and that's exactly what we got. Ryota is a wonderful character made even better by the phenomenal performance by Masaharu Fukuyama. He isn't the caricature that you might expect him to be. In fact, I felt he was a rather realistic depiction of a loving father who happens to be a bit of a workaholic. On the other hand, Yudai Saiki, the other father affected by the swap, was so different to Ryota, but just as good of a character. The contrast between the two fathers was one of the most fascinating aspects of the film. It bettered both characters, and gave the film an extra layer.
As I mentioned earlier, Masaharu Fukuyama was incredible as Ryota. The subtleties and nuances in his facial expressions were particularly impressive. Rirî Furankî played Yudai, the more easygoing father. I already touched upon how different their characters are, but the quality of their performances are almost identical. They both raised the film to the next level. The mothers were played by Machiko Ono and Yôko Maki. Their portrayals may not be as critical as those of the two male stars, but they were excellent nonetheless. And lastly, the two kids were played by Shôgen Hwang and Keita Ninomiya. I was a bit surprised by their acting talents as I thought they were just as good as the adult actors. We all know that young actors may not always be the best in terms of acting abilities, but these two talented kids proved that they have some acting chops. They were cute, vulnerable, and even scared when needed to be, and they never missed a beat. Brilliant acting across the board.
On top of doing an outstanding job in the writing department, Hirokazu Koreeda also directed the film in a magnificent fashion. Despite the unfortunate incident the families are dealing with, there's a certain feeling of warmth throughout the film, that works greatly with the family within it. This is achieved, in part thanks to the phenomenal music by Shin Yasui.
Koreeda didn't rush with the story and gave us time to connect with the families, which is pivotal for a film like this. The visuals were also quite remarkable, with Mikiya Takimoto working as cinematographer; The scenes by the lake were beautifully shot and had a very serene vibe to it. Koreeda also opted for more movements from the camera in scenes where, a lot of times in other films, the camera would be static. Little details like that is what distinguishes the directing of the film from others, and gives it that unique aura that is so appealing.
Like Father, Like Son raises a very compelling question on the identity of one's child. Is your child yours because you raised, loved, and nurtured them for years, or because they're your flesh and blood?! At first glance I, and I imagine a few people, will say the former is the correct answer. But by putting myself in Ryota's place, I'd be just as confused and unsure as he was. The film also raises a good point on the different types of parents and parenting techniques. Both Ryota and Yudai love their families dearly. However one decides to work to improve the quality of his family's life in exchange for his time with them, and one lives a relatively lower life, but spends all his time with the ones he loves.
Like Father, Like Son is a film that will connect with the viewer on an emotional level. The story will grip you, while the technical aspects impress you. It's an outstanding film that should be seen by film lovers, especially those who have families and children of their own. An easy recommendation from me.
Set in Japan Like Father, Like Son tells the story of Ryota Nonomiya, a successful businessman, who is driven by money more than anything else. Ryota is married to Midori, and has a son named Keita. When Ryota and Midori visit the hospital after receiving a call from them, they learn that Keita is not their biological son. Ryota is forced to choose between keeping the child, or doing the right thing and giving him back to his biological parents. Things are especially complicated for Ryota as Midori is still devoted to Keita, even after learning his true origins.
Like Father, Like Son is a very touching film. It is helped by the performances of the actors. Masaharu Fukuyama gives a very "tame" performance as Ryota. When he learns that his son is not his real child, he doesn't explode. Instead, he keeps his cool, and tries to make the best of it. His performances are especially helped by the script, as on only a few occasions it seems to require him to be truly "emotional". Maciko Ono, who plays his wife, Midori, also gives a very strong performance. Unlike most mothers, she doesn't break down at once after learning that her son isn't actually her biological son. Instead, she considers the possibilities of what might happen to him. These actors along with the rest of the cast are helped by writer and director, Hirokazu Koreeda's script, which is very strong.
One of the most fascinating elements about Like Father, Like Son is that this film is mostly devoid of any real soundtrack. The only bit of music throughout the film is that of a piano. The use of a piano in the film is clearly an attempt to make some of the most emotional scenes in the film, really emotional. Their son, Keita, played piano, and there is even a scene where he does a piano recital. The constant use of piano music is clearly supposed to link the relationship between the mother and father and their "son". For example, one fifteen second scene features Ryota and Midori driving to go see Keita. In this scene, there is no talking, just a shot of the car outside and piano music playing in the background. The piano music feels very haunting in this way, and as a result, the scene becomes emotional.
Although I have had minimal exposure to Japanese culture, I can clearly see that these two characters are real, and not stereotypes of Japanese people. Ryota, for example, clearly goes through a change in character, as he becomes less concerned with money and more concerned about his son. There is real emotion and charm to be found in this movie, and the way director Koreeda guides the family, helps a lot. Like Father, Like Son is a wonderful film, and one that many can relate to.
Keita is comfortable and apparently quite happy, enjoying a close and caring relationship with his mother, even though his father is not always around. Ryoto loves Keita, however, and wants the best for him, pushing him to excel in academics and music, but his character is painted in such broad strokes that he doesn't come across as truly caring. The family's comfortable world is turned upside down, however, when the Nonomiya's receive a phone call from the hospital telling them that Keita is in fact not their biological son, that testing has revealed that two boys were switched at birth, presumably by accident.
Both curious and anxious, Ryoto and Midori make plans to visit their biological son and here Koreeda draws a sharp contrast between the two families. Yudai (Lily Franky), a good-natured, playful storekeeper and his wife Yukari (Yoko Maki), are working class people, living in the rear of a general goods store with their three children, a boy named Ryusei (Shogen Hwang), and his younger brother and sister. Although tongue in cheek, Yudai tells his wife that his philosophy of life is "I always say, put off to tomorrow, what ever you can." When the mistake of the hospital is realized, the shocked families must decide how (and if) they are going to exchange sons.
The upper class Ryoto says that it "now makes sense" why his son Keita is not talented and ambitious like himself, a statement that is very hurtful to Midori. His desire is to continue the bloodline, urged also by his own father who suggests that he should make every effort to raise both boys. While this may sound good in theory, when Ryoto raises the possibility with Yudai and Yukari, the reaction is one of deep insult and Ryoto has to go to Plan B. While awaiting a financial settlement from the hospital, the two families agree to let the boys come for a visit to gradually get to know their real parents, at first for one day, then later on the weekends.
Awkwardly, Ryoto tells Ryu to call them father and mother, reserving daddy and mommy for Yudai and Yukari, the only parents he has truly known. Friction begins to develop between the parents when Yudai let's Ryoto know that he should spend more time with his son. Though both children adjust, Ryu expresses a longing to return to daddy and mommy. Ryoto wants the exchange of children to work out but Midori misses Keita and reacts with anger when she perceives that her husband blames her for what has happened. The exchange of the boys becomes a catalyst for Ryoto to look at his life and see what has been missing in his approach to parenting and he has the courage to make changes.
Like Father, Like Son is a riveting experience that once again demonstrates that the performances Koreeda can elicit from children are little short of amazing. Like Father, Like Son can meander, has some formulaic aspects, and does not have the weight of some of his earlier films, yet it is an entertaining, thought-provoking, and beautifully realized two hours at the movies.
Japanese drama flick; about two families, that discover their biological sons were switched at birth (six years earlier). It was written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda. The movie stars Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yōko Maki, Riri Furanki, Keita Nonomiya and Shôgen Hwang. The film has been a big financial hit, in Japan; and a critical success, as well, all over the world (including several prestigious festival award wins). It's so popular, that Steven Spielberg is producing an American remake (through his DreamWorks Studios); with filmmakers Chris and Paul Weitz set to direct. I saw the movie at the OSU International Film Festival (at Darkside Cinema, in Corvallis, OR) and I was really moved by it.
Ryota Nonomiya (Fukuyama) is a successful, and very conservative, businessman. He and his wife, Midori (Ono), have been raising a six-year-old together, named Keita (Nonomiya). One day, the hospital where Keita was born, informs them that Keita is not their biological son. He was switched at birth, with another six-year-old boy, named Ryusei (Hwang). Ryota and Midori decide to meet with the couple, who's been raising their son, named Yukari (Maki) and Yudai Saiki (Franky). The families begin spending a lot of time together, and each battles with the decision (they must make); whether to switch their children back, or not.
The film is both beautifully shot, and powerfully acted; Koreeda appears to be a director that lives up to his respectable reputation. The most impressive performances, in my opinion, come from the two six-year-old boys (and many think that great child performances, are largely due to great directing). The movie really feels like you're watching real people, dealing with real life situations (extremely tough, and troubling ones, at that). It almost feels like you're watching a documentary; the film is that convincing. It's really slow-paced, and the lead characters are challenging to get to know (at first); but the movie is well worth it, by it's emotionally charged conclusion. It's definitely a very powerful, and well made film!
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The story drives the audience into the lives of two (almost antagonistic) families who had to go through a tough situation together, a situation imposed by a third party in the past. Koreeda tell us the story by examining these two very different families. By portraying these almost antagonistic families the story creates contrast and allow the characters to grow an evolution while they discovered themselves.
I will not say more... watch it if you are looking for touching, delightful and well directed story about family and love.
"Like Father, Like Son" is a wonderful example of these films about real people. Director Hirokazu Koreeda helms this thought-provoking film about two families that are thrown into chaos when they learn that their sons were switched at birth. In such a case, which child would you keep? This is the big question in the film at first. However, the film is about far more than this dilemma--and that is why I love this movie. Instead, the film really is about a man's journey from a cold, corporate over-achiever to becoming more human as a result of this tragedy. I could say more but think you should just see the film yourself. It has a lot to say about a lot of things--such as what constitutes good parenting. My advice--just see this film and see what messages it has--there are plenty and the film is an interesting critique about Japanese life and childhood. Wonderful and well worth your time.
The writer and director is Hirokazu Koreeda, a regular at Cannes in the last fifteen years and a first-time winner for this movie in 2013. All 4 central actors give good performances and it brought them wins and nominations at the Japanese Film awards.
I would like to elaborate on some scenes that I found the most significant ones:
One would be when the woman tells the boy who she now knows that he is not her real son that they should maybe go away together and leave their husband/"father". This proves that the marriage between the two was far from perfect, possibly because of the man's profession and lack of time for his family.
Another scene is when the central male character shows his actual son how to eat with sticks. It is one of those moments where we already see how he is trying to make a connection and that he will have much less trouble than his wife to give up on his former son.
Then, of course, the ending. We see the male lead actor again, this time, how he bonds with his original son and this makes obvious that this film is not really about the swapping. The swapping and all the problems that arise from it are just the method. It is much more about an unlucky coincidence (aforementioned method) that marks the path of the lead character in order to finally manage to truly make a connection with his son.
Is blood more important than all the years they spent together? Well.. the ending is open and we won't find a definite solution about who keeps which child. I like that choice from the director.
Finally, I would like to say that, even if I liked the way the film ended, I would have possible ended it with the photo shoot together. Seemed like a perfect moment for the ending credits to roll in. The soundtrack here is very subtle and almost non-existent as it is often the case in Japanese films. All in all, I can recommend watching this.
Science has already proved that environment plays a greater role on the development of a young brain than genetics. After the realization is made regarding the origin of the child the choice is obviously an easy one for a caring parent.
What would you do if you discover that your 6 year old son is not your biological son, that he was changed with another baby at birth, therefore, your blood son has been raised for 6 years by another family. That's the situation for Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori (Machiko Ono) a rich couple from Tokio. And also for Yudai (Lily Franky) and Yukari (Yōko Maki) a humble couple who owns a store. Define being a father. Define being a son. Which one is your child? The one you took care of and loved for years? Or the one that looks just like you when you were 6, who is genetically similar in aptitudes and intimately behaves like you, even when he doesn't know you? Director Koreeda does a great job, while he asks this questions deconstructs certainties and deepens in parents doubts. He marks the path beautifully, delivering subtle hints - straws chewed by both father and son, a shared hobby in photography or a common frustration at playing piano- lead us to contemplate the characters with empathy instead of judge them. Regrettably after the first hour in the movie the flow of information starts to lose a little strength and requires more concentration and patience from the audience, nevertheless the information it's there and it's important, but not as masterly delivered as in the first half of the film.
Koreeda is used to obtain great performances by working with children, (see "Nobody knows" - 2004 or "I wish" - 2011). But also gets the best form Masaharu Fukuyama who plays Ryota Nonomiya a strict father used to demand excellence from his son Keita. Ryota is an economically successful man who always obtains what he wants, but his mechanisms of independence are useless when he clashes to a profound sense of bond, both of blood and affection. Fukuyama performs an intense internal work trying to restrain the feeling of self-distrust. His character shatters at the same time that finds a superior foundation mainly in Yudai, the other father who is played by Lily Franky. The contrast between both characters coming from different social background it's marked constantly, funny, a bit cliché, but no more than the necessary. The movie switches form scenes inside the houses where each family particularities are shown, to public places where both groups collide to discuss. As the story unfolds members are allowed to get into the other family home merging a feeling of fuse belonging. The film it's lightly accompanied by a piano playing simple melodies like the ones little Keyta it's learning with his father, music periodically develops in intensity and complexity as the story does.
"Like father, like son" it's a mature observation on the fatherhood, but also takes the subject to criticize materialism, social differences and to ponder acceptance, affection and forgiveness in a realistic and profound way.
Ryota and Mr. Saiki, these two fathers are completely different in respect of how they show their love for children. I don't think that Ryota doesn't love his son because he makes Keita take a test of a private elementary school with wishing his son well. In addition, he earns much money and offers Midori and Keita a rich life. On the other hand, Mr. Saiki considers the time with his children important but he is a person with a low income. Which father is better father? The judgment will depend on who the person is. However, I think that Mr. Saiki is better father because he pours out his affection on his children directly. To think with the viewpoint of children in mind, I think children are happy if their father pours out his affection on his children directly.
The ending of this story isn't described clearly. However, I think Ryota certainly changes as a father.
The characters had personality and depth. The movie never strayed too far from the theme of family, making each important moment all the more impactful.
There were three massive payoffs, one in each third of the movie. You are awarded for you patience in spades.
The first payoff comes in the form of light and timing, when shadow falls over the train right when the mother is talking about the father.
When they're camping by the river and Keita asks his father, "Do they love me?... More than you?" And he answers with what he believes to be brutal honesty.
And when the father discovers the photos his son took of him on the camera.
Bonus payout: when the nurse's adolescent son defends her.
These scenes made me weep.