[Movie Review] Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる Soshite Chichi ni Naru)

Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる Soshite Chichi ni Naru) is a multiple international awards-winning 2013 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize as well as a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury. It also won the Rogers People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival and the Wuaki.TV Audience Award at the 2013 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Koreeda also directed Nobody Knows (誰も知らない Dare mo shiranai), a 2004 Japanese drama film based on the 1988 event known as the “Affair of the four abandoned children of Sugamo”. I enjoyed Nobody Knows very much and appreciate Koreeda’s sensitivity in bringing out children emotions and how they see the world.

Expectations were high when I went for the preview screening of Like Father, Like Son.

Trailer:

Synopsis:

Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori (Machika Ono) are an ambitious urban couple pushing themselves and six-year-old son Keita (Keita Ninomiya) up the social ladder. The boy, however, appears to lack the drive found in his father. Then the parents are told shocking news: Keita was swopped with another baby at birth. Should they keep him or fix the mistake and take their biological son, raised by laidback shopkeeper Yudai (Lily Franky) and wife Yukari (Yoko Maki)?

If you were the father or mother of Keita, what would you have done?

As a father of a two year son now, I find I am unable to make a clear decision. The first conclusion I had was the same as Ryota – why not try to keep both? The problem is, would the other party agree? Is it fair to them?

The film got me thinking about the age-old debate of nature vs nature.

In Ryota, I see the failings of an elitist mindset, something which we often fault the current batch of PAP leaders in Singapore for. Ryota is not a bad person. He wants the best for his child, but it took him a while to reconcile the fact that regardless whether it was his biological son or the son he brought up, the child is not him.

The film had an open ending. It works for me as it invokes thinking. Rachel and I were still talking about it after we left the theatres, debating over the different scenarios that could have panned out.

While the parents stress themselves out thinking which decision works best for themselves, what is neglected is the feelings of the children. The director brought out this message subtly, but with a strong, lasting impact.

Koreeda is good in dealing with topics revolving around kids’ emotions.

Like Father, Like Son is one of the best movie which I have watched this year. Do go catch it. It is now showing in Singapore cinemas.

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