Ryota Nonomiya, an extremely successful and dedicated businessman, lives more than a life of comfort with his wife Midori and his six-year-old son, Keita. Seemingly content, their lives are turned upside down when the hospital calls to tell them some shocking news; two babies were switched and their son is in fact, not their own. Having dedicated himself more to his work and less towards his family, Ryota is faced with the prospect of meeting his biological son, reconnecting as a parent, and discovering what it truly means to be a father.
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and awarded the Rogers People’s Choice Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Like Father, Like Son is another of director Koreeda’s treasures. Tackling a tragedy no parent could ever imagine, Like Father, Like Son engages the audience thoroughly from beginning to end, with a compelling story and true emotion that will warm your heart.
Masaharu Fukuhama plays main character Ryota; a more devoted workaholic rather than husband and father, and spends half his time attached to his computer and late at the office rather than with his beautiful wife Midori (Machiko Ono) and their adorable son Keita. Director Koreeda really brings out the flow and attentiveness of his storytelling as we follow their journey in this emotive turmoil – just how would a parent be able to deal with giving up a child they have raised, loved and cherished for six years? Does blood relation really matter more? Of course, there is no easy answer, but writer and director Koreeda manages to display and challenge all of them beautifully.
While entitled Like Father, Like Son, the film far from neglects the equally tough positions of Ryota’s wife, Midori, and Keita’s biological parents, the Saiki’s. From discovering the horrible news, having to meet the parents face to face and exchange photos of their children, to eventually spending time with each other as families, the film explores the possible relation of two couples whose lives have been thrown into the deep end. Unlike Ryota and Midori, the Saiki’s have two other children, and boast an entirely alternate lifestyle. While Ryota has achieved arguable success and riches, the Saiki family own a small electronics store and hold lesser, though quainter qualities of living. Intertwining strikingly different characters, Koreeda creates conflict and shows that those richer in life are not always the happiest. Joined only by the tragedy that binds them together, the Nonomiya and Saiki couples find themselves realising that, as time wears on, a simple ‘exchange’ of their sons would never work out to be so simple and so begin a journey that challenge each individual in so many different angles. Captivating and accentuating what it truly means to be a family, and what it means to be parents, Like Father, Like Son is equivalent to a page-turner of a book – you just can’t put it down.
Delightfully compelling and filled with emotion, gracious acting, heart-warming storytelling and beautiful displays of film work, Like Father, Like Son most certainly deserves to fill that missing space on your DVD cabinet.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Masaharu Fukuhama, Machiko Ono, Yōko Maki, Jun Kunimara, Kirin Kiki, Isao Natsuyagi, Lily Franky, Jun Fubuki, Megumi Morisaki
Running Time: 120 minutes
Release Date: 5th May 2014
Formats: DVD, Blu Ray