Like Father, Like Son (2013)


Original Title: そして父になる
Release date: September 28, 2013
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Screenplay by: Hirokazu Koreeda
Cast: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Lily Franky, Keita Ninomiya, Shôgen Hwang, Kirin Kiki, Jun Fubuki, Jun Kunimura, Isao Natsuyagi

Of all the films that the Lima Film Festival had to offer this year, Koreeda’s latest was one of the very few I really wanted to see — (it’s also the only one I was able to see). I’ll confess that I’ve never seen any of Koreeda’s films before, but I’ll try to change that when I can. I’ll start off saying that Like Father, Like Son quickly shot into my Top 3 of 2013 films.

We got off to a chuckle-worthy start at the cinema in my country when 6-year-old Keita Nonomiya (Ninomiya) revealed that his birthday is on July 28th (Peru’s Independence Day) during an interview to enroll on first grade. Little Keita lives a great high-class life with workaholic father Ryota (Fukuyama) and loving mom Midori (Ono). Life is grand for them on many ways, despite the father’s often absence due to his job.

One day, the public hospital in which Keita was born reveals to the Nonomiyas that they screwed up big time, and there was an accidental baby-switch when Keita was born, involving the Saiki family; father Yudai (Franky), mother Yukari (Maki), and their 6-year-old son Ryusei (Hwang), all of them also unaware of the situation. Unlike the Nonomiyas, the Saikis aren’t well-off, but they are a very loving unit that manages to have some great family time with their three kids despite their economic situation. As per recommendation of the hospital, the children-switch has to happen as soon as possible before school season begins. However, that’s not an easy decision for both families to make.

While this messy situation ends up affecting everyone involved, Like Father, Like Son comes across as a character study film on Ryota Nonomiya for the most part, and he’s interesting to observe. He’s a man driven by perfection, privilege, pride, lineage and reserved emotions. His entire world turns into hell and everyone suffers with the same issue, but he’s the one who is shown being frustrated with it the most. As if the accident wasn’t bad enough, he was already having family issues (his differences with his relatives and his direct family), and he doesn’t really get along well with the Saikis at all, unlike his wife and Keita. We see his relationship with Midori getting strained due to her birth delivery, opinions and life choices, as well as his work keeping him away from his family.

The cast is excellent (child actors included), especially Fukuyama and Franky who had the more showier roles, and both are Oscar-worthy, if I may say so. The female cast were great too, but they don’t get to shine as much as the men — yet Ono edges out Maki since she has more screentime as Ryota’s wife and her mourning scenes are touching. While Fukuyama carried most of the film with ease through a very complicated character, Franky provided a lot of comedy relief effortlessly in a pretty drama-heavy movie that packs a lot of tension in terms of “when will the kids learn the truth,” as well as taking an emotional toll on every character.

Koreeda’s direction and screenwriting is top-notch, portraying a realistically grounded film with real characters that are actually interesting to watch. He also asks us pretty tough questions throughout the film. What would you do if this kind of mess (albeit very unlikely) happened to you? How would you feel about having a new family member at the expense of switching one of your own? Can you get along with the other family? I personally wouldn’t want to answer any of these or go through something like this.

My only problem with Like Father, Like Son is the explaining of the mistake towards both families. We needed to see why this happened, but the way it was presented came across as a bit distracting from the on-going drama. It’s sad that this happened to these families, but this went nowhere for the most part of the film.

Also, I really wonder if this could be re-adapted in other countries. I consider that pretty tough and not only from the casting aspect (in terms of semi-look-a-likes for the kids), but depending on the region it could involve other complicated factors. Nonetheless, Koreeda’s outstanding story and the cast’s solid acting puts Like Father, Like Son on the high-end of 2013 films.

Rating: ★★★★¼ 


YAM Magazine contributor, has a B. Sc. degree in Science/Pharmacy and is a very lazy person.

10 Responses

  1. amy says:

    Would you call it crazy if I tell you that Maki won Best Supporting at the Japanese Academy Awards (as well as Best Actress). Granted, Ono’s acting isn’t Lead, so it would’ve been interesting seeing them compete in supporting.

    Anyway, small (foreign) films not acquired by Weinstein or Sony Picture have no money to campaign for Oscars. Or SAGs (I think you need ur SAG member card there), or Globes. Not like any other awards are better, I suppose. I’ve made peace, and leave it up to “to each its own.” Complete this with Kiseki and Still Walking, and you got Koreeda’s Family Trilogy of sorts xD Going my Home should be *cough* relatively easy to find. ;P

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, Late reply, but I did thought of both women as supporting acts, though with Ono being a slight lead actress.

      I think LFLS wasn’t handpicked by Korea for its foreign nomination. Maybe they thought it could fare well without the country endorsement, but it should have at least been given a push. Jesus, LFLS, The Hunt and Blue is the Warmest Color are way better than The Great Beauty as far as foreign film goes.

      But we’re not voters nor we’re rich enough to influence folks or voters.

      • amy says:

        @Rodrigo, you mean Japan, right? xD ‘coz I can see all people jumping on you saying “Japan is not Korea!!!” and viceversa ~~~

        I don’t know how committees figure out how to send movies to the Oscars, but there’s always a lot of controversies with lobbying. Last year, the big one was India sending The Good Road over The Lunchbox (which you have to see, no pre-Hindi watching required) or, I guess… Barfi!. And some movies that were (commercially) released in 2013 are also eligible for Oscars next year, apparently.

        In Japan, The Great Passage… a movie about a team that works through many MANY years to make the most complete Japanese dictionary won over most important awards, like Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay, while LFLS won supporting roles. It did end up ‘sweeping’ Asian-Pacific Awards winning Picture and Director though ;P

        The Great Beauty was heralded as one of them beauty films of the Europe classics. I love beautiful photography, but I gotta have more than pretty framing.

        • Rodrigo says:

          @amy, [peruvianstereotype]They’re all the same to me![/peruvianstereotype]

          Yes, I meant Japan.

          I think Blue should be elegible next year because of its US release date, but I’m not suare about that. Though I wonder if Dallas Buyers Club will be elegible for the upcoming BAFTAs considering it wasn’t nominated at all (maybe it has to do with release dates per awards committee) last awards season and that’s why Chiwitel Eijofor and Barkhad Abdi won acting awards that would usually go to DBC.

          Agreed with The Great Beauty.

      • amy says:

        @Rodrigo, Nah. Blue doesn’t qualify for this year, since its limited release was Oct 2013, and deadlines are until the holidays in December. It probably didn’t make the cut in nominations because NC-17 movies hardly make it for Oscar voters. Dallas is totally understandable for BAFTAs, since it has to open in the UK for legibility.

        For example 3 Idiots (2009) was nominated for Best Foreign at the Japanese Academy last time.

  2. Such a good movie!!! Yeah, with the U.S. remake soon I am concerned about how it will be portrayed.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @Candice Frederick, It’s a great film. Had no idea it would get an American remake. Casting will be a huge issue there, unless they pull an Orphan Black of sorts with the adaptation.

  1. August 27, 2014

    […] Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる) will open in Japan in October 5th, […]

  2. August 27, 2014

    […] Anyway, Rodrigo and I had been discussing remakes and re-adaptations of other movies and series, so I decided to give the first step on the site and post this: my Indian re-adaptation of Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son. […]

  3. October 13, 2014

    […] Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる) (2013, Japan) […]

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