TIFF 2013: Like Father, Like Son – Capsule Review

Director: Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Writer: Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Stars: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Lily Franky
Runtime: 120 min
Rating: PG

Like Father, Like Son is a film that hits you hard. A wealthy family and a lower-middle-class family find out that their sons were switched at birth. It seems implausible that anyone would want to throw away the six years that they have spent raising and loving their children. However, there are the questions of whether it is important to live and be raised by one’s biological parents, and if the lack of a blood tie should change anything about the relationships that have already been built. The film raises many questions about family, morality, and the ongoing issue of nature versus nurture. The film focuses primarily on the wealthy family’s father, Ryota Nonomiya, a work-a-holic and an absent father to his son Keita. When he realizes that Keita is not his true son, Ryota tries to blame his disconnect with his son on the fact that they are not blood related. The struggles of fatherhood are examined through this character, and elements of his past reveal why he favours the idea of raising his real son instead of the son he thought was his for six years. Each character in the film is extremely fleshed out, and everyone is a person who can be likeable but is also flawed. The main journey here is for Ryota, a man who has to discover what parenting and love is truly about. Like Father, Like Son is a must-see film as it is emotionally compelling, and makes one realize the importance of love and family.

Overall rating: 4.5/5