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Another fantastic emotional film from Koreeda.
finalfantasy_gc16 October 2013
The story is about two Japanese families who got their sons exchanged at birth but only to find out about it 6 years later. The big dilemma that both families face is whether to switch children or not. The main strength of this film is the unique story and the complexities that comes with this theme. Already from the start when both families meet a lot of tensions occur due to the different backgrounds and personalities of the characters. The acting performances are top notch creating a convincing scenario between these families. Koreeda has always been good with handling fun and deep family stories with underlying conflicts. A masterful combination of both humour and grief. This film will make you both laugh and cry. As always in Koreeda films the children are the biggest reasons for enjoying his films. Full of charisma and innocence pulling us through a emotional journey from start to end.
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Like Father, Like Son
Aimar_the_hobbit16 December 2013
'Like Father, Like Son' is the latest film from Hirokazu Koreeda that won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Like 'Nobody Knows' and 'I Wish', Koreeda's previous films, it deals with family conflicts and children. A successful businessman discovers that the boy he has been raising for 6 years is actually not his son, as his son was switched with another child after birth. Now he needs to choose between his biological child and the child he has raised…

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.
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A great solid movie with a delicate subject. One of 2013 best
thefadingcam23 November 2013
Director Hirozaku Koreeda returns to the children theme, presenting a drama about a couple that discovers that their 6 year old son has been swapped in the hospital with another baby. Now, there is a choice to be made, as whether the children should be switched or not. The movie has a cold, intense and almost uncomfortable feel to it, such is the delicacy of the situation itself, whose directing easily penetrates through the viewers spirit. All the actors, adults and children, deliver an outstanding performance, particularly Masaharu Fukuyama, the father. Also it is important to note how the movie doesn't fall into stereotypes and into the easy sentimentalism. The movie is strong, just as the presentation, all building up for one of the best movies in 2013. Check out this and other movie reviews on thefadingcam blog on blogspot! Also like us on facebook =)
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masterpiece cinema from Koreeda
CountZero31329 December 2013
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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Speaks to All Fathers
3xHCCH24 June 2014
We have seen many films delve on the topic of babies being switched at birth. Most of these, the story would revolve around the fortune of the kids. "Like Father, Like Son" is about the parents, particularly the fathers.

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.
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Consistent with Hirokazu Koreeda's unassuming style and high quality
harry_tk_yung15 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, this movie carries on with his gentle, easy style of story-telling. I cannot remember the subject matter being explored by another movie, globally speaking: two boys born simultaneously in the same hospital switched in a careless mistake, with the unfortunate incident discovered six years later. The devastating impact on the two sets of parents is handled in this movie in a reflective, low key manner. In addition, it also touches on familiar issues of today that are not unique to Japan but have a global relevance: "helicopter" parents (i.e. hovering over the heads of the children incessantly), social class disparity, relationship with the older generation, just to name a few.

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.
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Like Father, Like Son
politic19834 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There are many comparisons made between Hirokazu Kore-eda and one of the Twentieth Century masters of Japanese cinema, the much lauded Ozu. With each film that the modern-day equivalent makes, the comparisons will continue to grow and grow, as his films maintain the theme of contemporary family life in Japan.

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.
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Children's feelings
ivalu9010 November 2013
I won't describe the plot as it has been done already. What was moving to me it was the way that Keitan feelings were hurt by the expectations, lack of attention and coldness of his 'father'. He makes him feel not good enough and a disposable good that can be exchangeable and has no right to express its feelings. He goes as far as to request the child to avoid all contact with them.

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.
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A brilliant, warm story presented in spectacular fashion
Obelisk9427 August 2014
Like Father, Like Son tells us the story of a young couple and how their lives get altered when they find out that their son, has been swapped at birth. Hirokazu Koreeda directs and writes of this affectionate tale and does so in an excellent way. The film was released in the stacked year of 2013, and quite frankly, I think it's among the best of the year.

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.
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Emotionally Well Done
comicman11724 March 2014
Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son is a very emotional movie. One that made me feel for its characters. The film is full of great performances, an interesting soundtrack, and a plot that is easy to understand.

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.
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Entertaining, thought-provoking, and beautifully realized
howard.schumann19 March 2014
Everyone has an opinion about what constitutes good parenting. Does it boil down to rules and regulations, pushing a child to excel, letting them just enjoy themselves, or the amount of time you spend with them? These issues are on the table in Hirokazu Koreeda's latest child-centered film, Like Father, Like Son, winner of the Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Ryoto Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a somewhat aloof architect who works long hours at his job, leaving little time for his six-year-old son Keita (Keita Ninomiya). Ryoto and his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) live in a luxury Tokyo apartment that relatives tell them looks like a hotel.

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.
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importance of achieving real connections
Raven-19693 August 2014
"Work hard now, so there is no struggle later" declares a hard-driving and pushy Dad. As if work makes the man. As if it is so simple. Upon discovering his 6-year-old son was switched at birth, the Dad continues to focus on form and not heart. The family taking care of his real son is everything that he is not; fun-loving, adventuresome, and loving of the natural world. He pools his lawyers and his money in order to prove a point, yet the point proved may be his own demise. Though the story might be better developed in places, the theme is compelling and poignant, the actors are believable, and the disparate characters are intriguing. Winner of a Cannes festival jury prize. This film is about the importance of achieving real connections with others.
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Well worth it, by it's emotionally charged conclusion!
Hellmant16 October 2015
'LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

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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A delightful and touching tale about parenthood
raulmvicente11 July 2018
I just discovered Koreeda's films and I'm surprised, and angry with myself, I didn't know about this great director and storyteller. The film is a wonderful story about parenthood in which its hardship and beauty are well balanced.

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.
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This film is great example of why I often love French, Japanese or Danish films...
MartinHafer1 March 2014
As the largest contributor of reviews on IMDb (with nearly 16000), it's not surprising that I watch films from all over the world. During this weird quest to see as much as any human can during the last decade, I have grown to love foreign films from several nations--notably France, Japan and Denmark. While I might also include a few other countries on this list, the reason I chose these three is that many of their films focus on people and their stories as opposed to explosions, excitement, special effects and glitz. These countries are producing wonderful films about people.

"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.
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kimura-toyo21 June 2015
I caught this film on a United flight in spring 2014 while flying to Japan. It was also recommended to me by a Japanese friend so I believe it has some popularity in the mainland. Without any expectations that were too high, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The acting, from the parents to the children, was superb. And understanding how Japanese culture can be, it embellished on the role of family vs. work life. The plot was credible and the movie did not have any slow parts. The ending had me in tears though, and it made me think about what I would have done or how I would have acted if I were in the character's shoes. I would recommend this to those who enjoy drama themes (with a little comedy) and those who liked to be moved.
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It is a little bit complex story
alpaca2523 September 2014
This movie makes me consider a lot of things.Ryota, Midori and Keita live a happy life but a phone call tells them a shocking news.I thought how strong children are. The mistake of children is not allowed and it is unbelievable.If I was the child of other family, I want to live with the family which grows me for a long time. Which is important that the time they live together or the relation by blood is really complex question.The gap between two family makes this movie more interesting.The climax scene is a little bit difficult for me, but thanks for this movie, I thought about my family deeply for the first time.
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The State of Fatherhood
matlamarre7 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
So it's a foreign movie - fine, not everybody gets it. It confronts the viewer with a different set of social codes - precisely Japanese, a softer way of doing things which is light-years away from what we're used to in the Western world. This said, you actually need only one thing to fully appreciate this story : that is to be a parent. And this time (which is rare), the subject focuses on fatherhood instead of the ever-scrutinized motherhood. If you're a modern father, having outgrown the prototypical figure of the mid-to-late 20th century and being at peace with your so-called "feminine side", you will find it at least puzzling, if not disturbing to put yourself in the main character's shoes. Finding out your biological son has been swapped for another at birth is a shocking thought - and a not easily-resolved dilemma. And just for that - even though this is not necessarily a masterpiece offering -, this gentle, humane piece of work is worth seeing and ponder upon. A kind warning: do not follow up right away with a viewing of Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt", another fatherhood-themed movie, unless you're ready for a bad case of the blues...
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A superb film by a great director
MrsHenry12 June 2014
What does it mean to be a parent? Are father/son relationships based on DNA or love? In exploring these issues Koreeda produces a sublime, indeed I would say a perfect, film - perfect in every aspect: narrative, characters, acting, filming, soundtrack. All this is achieved in a relatively low key way - no histrionics in terms of story, acting or film making, but this is not to say that the film is unemotional: quite the contrary. Some scenes are devastatingly powerful. The contrast between the two families is brilliantly drawn, and all the characters have depth. Koreeda gives us some wonderful shots - particularly the journeys between the two homes. The scene at the river, where the two families share a picnic at a pivotal moment, is truly great. Father and son sit on the stony shore as the man tries to explain why the boy must leave, while behind them in the river stands an enormous boulder, unmoving yet constantly washed and imperceptibly eroded by the flowing water. The image is obscure but powerful. In sum, it is impossible to overpraise Koreeda who wrote, directed and edited this film.
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Not really a movie on culture, more on family and paternal bonding
Horst_In_Translation17 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Being from Germany, I always found it fascinating to watch films about foreign cultures, especially Asian. However, here I have to say that "Soshite chichi ni naru" or "Like Father, Like Son" is not too much in terms of that. It is not a major plot point. It is much more of a family drama that could also play in many other areas of the world, the United States for example. The only really really relevant reference in terms of symbolisms, was when the female main character's mother asked her daughter if what happened is maybe fate and briefly elaborates on that. The story can be summarized quickly. Two couples (who could hardly be any more different, especially the men in terms of profession and education and who is in charge in their relationships) find out that their sons were swapped at the hospital when they were born.

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.
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Why is this such a dilemma? Easy choice.
heacock26 June 2014
I really don't understand what is controversial about this movie. I couldn't relate to the character's so called dilemma. guess you have to be Japanese to understand the conflict. Okay so you find out the kid you are raising is not your kid by birth. The initial realization that someone might have switched your kid with someone else's kid might be shocking but only a completely uncaring parent would disown the child. I really don't see the dilemma.

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.
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A heart-melting story about fatherhood
leandro-e-seta19 April 2017
"Like Father, like son" it's Hirokazu Koreeda's most acclaimed work, won the jury price in Cannes festival and also best director and best film price in the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.

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.
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the story that I am made to think about family
bump-1858926 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is a story about a baby mix-up and two families which are at the mercy of the fact. Ryota Nonomiya is an excellent businessman but also a cold father who entrusts the care of his son, Keita, to his wife, Midori. After Keita passes an examination of a private elementary school, the hospital where Keita was born at let Ryota know the fact that Keita isn't his real son. Ryota and Midori meet the real parent of Keita, Mr. and Mrs. Saiki. After that, they start to exchange their real sons and to suffer anxiety.

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.
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Wonderful pacing and 3 payoffs worth the wait
rhaphazard15 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The pacing was masterful. The camera knew just how long to hold a shot, and was never in a rush to cut. Yet, so much seemed to be happening. Time seemed to slow, but the storytelling had a brisk rhythm.

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.

## Spoilers

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.
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What makes a good father?
sol-19 January 2016
Learning that his biological son was swapped at birth and that his six-year-old son is not actually his own, an affluent workaholic is torn between whether or not to swap sons with the other family in this Japanese drama from Hirokazu Koreeda. While it is hard to understand why both families would be in favour of a swap, the whole situation works well as wake-up call for our protagonist, played by Masaharu Fukuyama, to realise the importance of spending quality time with his son away from work. He is also humbled in his outlook on the world. Initially, Fukuyama is deterred by the other family's working class background and their desire to make a small fortune out of suing the hospital, but as the film progress, both us as viewers and Fukuyama come to realise that the other father, played by Rirî Furankî, is fun-loving very caring. In fact, his initial interest in getting rich is soon (awkwardly) pushed to the side. There is, however, room to wonder whether the film would have benefited from more focus on the boys themselves and their perspective on what is happening, though there is admittedly an interesting irony at play in how Fukuyama keeps saying that he would be able to provide better for both boys (he even shockingly considers taking both at one point) and yet he never really thinks about the real impact on the two children. Whatever the case, everything spirals towards a powerful dénouement and while the ending might seem happy on face value, there is a bitter-sweetness to it too. Will any of them ever be the same after their experiences?
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