Actors: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: July 1, 2014
Run Time: 121 minutes
It is difficult imagining anyone other than a Japanese filmmaker handling this material, having a longstanding tradition in carefully paced family dramas best remembered in the lifelong works of master filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Kore-eda Hirokazu has picked up that tradition wonderfully in the past with a portrait of sibling codependence and compassion with Nobody Knows, as well as the lasting effects of grief on a family in Still Walking, and utilizes it yet again in this touching inspection of what it means to be a parent. While there is a satisfying resolution to the conundrum of the film’s basic premise, Hirokazu’s strength as a filmmaker comes with his patience. The ending is satisfying because we feel we have earned it, taking a slow but intention path to reach that final resolution.
Like Father, Like Son has a simple premise, which quickly relies heavily on the well-developed characters in the narrative rather than additional plot twists or subplots. In this, Hirokazu gives the audience permission to focus entirely on the themes of parenthood at the center of the story. Affluent architect Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) seem to have everything in their swanky high-rise apartment with their beloved six-year-old son, Keita (Keita Ninomiya), but this seemingly ideal life is turned upside down with they are contacted by the hospital with disturbing news. Due to an accident at the hospital, it turns out that Keita was switched with another baby at birth, and Ryota and Midori’s son has been raised by another family for six years.
Keita’s biological parents couldn’t be more different than Ryota and Midori in many ways, especially the parenting techniques of his father, Yudai Saiki (Rirî Furankî). While Ryota is a workaholic that spends his Sundays in the office rather than with his son, Yudai is an unmotivated shopkeeper content to spend his days playing with his children rather than making money. Like Father, Like Son becomes more than a film about nature versus nurture; it also becomes a movie about the balance between happiness and success. Both fathers have something to learn from each other in the process of deciding what to do about the tragic mix-up.
Like Father, Like Son is ultimately a beautiful film about the power of love that grows between a parent and child, regardless of bloodlines. This is shown in many different varieties throughout the film as Ryota struggles to find resolution in the mistake. Having been raised by a step-mother, the issue has particular significance to Ryota. It all builds quite wonderfully to an inevitable resolution. My only complaint is that this moment could have been much more magnificent with a more fitting child actor in the role of Keita. Too much is built upon a final scene between Keita and Ryota, but it falls short with a child actor who was clearly cast for his ability to look cute rather than any talents as an actor.
The special features include a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 6.5/10