ⓘ Like Father, Like Son (2013 film)


ⓘ Like Father, Like Son (2013 film)

Like Father, Like Son is a 2013 Japanese drama film edited, written, and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It was nominated for the Palme dOr at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize and a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and won both the Rogers Peoples Choice Award at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival and the Wuaki.TV Audience Award at the 2013 San Sebastian International Film Festival.


1. Plot

Ryōta Nonomiya is a successful architect who is focused so much on work that he neglects his wife, Midori, and son, Keita. Upon his return home one day, Midori tells him that the hospital where Keita was born urgently needs to speak to them, and Ryōta senses trouble. After arriving at the hospital, the couple learns that their biological son Ryūsei was switched with Keita at birth, and after DNA tests prove the error, they must now make a life-changing decision to either keep Keita, the boy they raised as their own son, or exchange him for their biological son.

Ryōta and Midori soon meet with the other couple, Yukari and Yūdai Saiki, small town folks who lack the money and drive that Ryōta possess, but who have a better understanding of the importance of child and parent bonds. They share photos, and for the first time, Ryōta and Midori see their biological son, Ryūsei. After several meetings, they decide to exchange children for one Saturday. After several more meetings, they finally decide to exchange children permanently. All four parents have difficulty accepting the loss of their previous sons, and the absence of the parents they used to know causes both boys to shut down emotionally, culminating in Ryūsei running away from the Nonomiyas home and returning to the Saikis. Ryōta picks up Ryūsei and brings him back home.

Ryōta and Midori begin to bond with Ryūsei, who is also warming up to them. However, while going through the photos on his camera, Ryōta discovers a cache of photos of himself, mostly sleeping, that Keita took, and he breaks down crying. Ryōta now understands the errors of his ways. The three return to the Saiki family, but Keita runs away from Ryōta. While following him, Ryōta apologizes to Keita, and the two make amends. The film ends with the two returning to the Saikis, and both families entering the home.


2. Cast

  • Masaharu Fukuyama as Ryōta Nonomiya
  • Yōko Maki as Yukari Saiki
  • Jun Kunimura as Kazushi Kamiyama
  • Lily Franky as Yūdai Saiki
  • Jun Fubuki as Nobuko Nonomiya
  • Isao Natsuyagi as Ryōsuke Nonomiya
  • Machiko Ono as Midori Nonomiya
  • Kirin Kiki as Riko Ishizeki

3. Critical response

Like Father, Like Son received mostly positive reviews. On the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an 88% score, with an average rating of 7.6/10, based on 96 reviews. The sites consensus reads, "Sensitively written, smartly directed, and powerfully performed, Like Father, Like Son uses familiar-seeming elements to tell a thought-provoking story." Metacritic gives the film a score of 73 out of 100, based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Andrew Chan of the Film Critics Circle of Australia writes, "Essentially, Like Father, Like Son is one of those rare films that keep the audience totally engaged, thoroughly profound, fully emoted and ultimately refreshing. In the scale of perfect cinema, this stands quite close." On the website of The American Spectator, Eve Tushnet wrote that the film "has some of the striking Kore-eda trademarks: the extraordinary acting from the children; the symmetrical framing and musical pacing; and the shifts between long shots in which all the people look tiny and childs-eye shots where all the people look huge."


4. Remake

DreamWorks Studios has acquired remake rights to Like Father, Like Son after the film caught the eye of Steven Spielberg at Cannes. Chris and Paul Weitz are slated to direct.