07th May2014

‘Like Father, Like Son’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yôko Maki, Rirî Furankî, Jun Fubuki, Shôgen Hwang, Kirin Kiki, Jun Kunimura  | Written and Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda


When a family is having a baby one thing they do is trust the hospital they choose to look after the mother and baby.  What if something happens in that hospital though and the babies are swapped? I know this is something we often see in “true life story” movies, but when the film comes from Japan and is from globally acclaimed director Hirokazu Koreeda you know get the feeling that you may be in for something just a little special.  That is what you get with Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru).

When Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori (Machiko Ono) receive a phone call from the hospital where their son was born their lives are turned upside down when they are told that the six-year-old boy they believe is theirs actually belongs to somebody else.  Ryota a man who has worked hard for everything he has and has built up his son to have the best future he can have suddenly finds that he and his wife must choose whether to swap the son they have raised with their real son or leave things as they are.  Whichever way they choose, Ryota will soon find his whole life changed and realisations made about the way he has lived his life.

Like Father, Like Son is a look at nature vs. nuture but also about fatherhood and how hard-working may not actually be the best for the family.  We are constantly shown that Ryota’s view on his family is cold and clinical, the way his own father treated him has formed his methods of being a parent, and although in his eyes this may be perfect, this is not always the case.  The other parents although not as rich in monetary terms are the kind of people who are rich in another way, they enjoy life and shower their children with love.  Hirokazu Koreeda’s examination of these two families and in turn the two children in the centre of the problems caused by the baby swap are a way to take a character like Ryota and wake him up to the important things in life.

Ryota in many ways is not a likeable character.  Influenced by his father he sees the importance of “blood”, and this is a cold way to look at a child that he has raised for six years.  I won’t say what his final decision is, this would of course be spoiling the effect of the film but the reason Like Father, Like Son works is that it focuses on love.  Ryota may not be a character driven by love but the audience who watch the film see both sides of the argument and see how the parent’s decisions affect the children and in the end the important people in this are the two boys whose lives will be changed forever.

Hirokazu Koreeda creates a thought provoking and emotional voyage for the audience when they watch Like Father, Like Son because we empathise with the families and even though some of the actions they take aren’t something we agree on, we have a trust that everything will work out in the end.  Do we get an answer to the question of nurture vs. nature? To find that out you’ll just have to watch the movie and see, it’s well worth the experience.

Like Father, Like Son is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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