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Like Father, Like Son

Soshite Chichi Ni Naru

Two boys switched at birth rejoin their natural parents as director Hirokazu Kore-eda zeroes in on a father learning to loosen up and give affection.

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  • Director-Screenwriter Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Producers Kaoru Matsuzaki, Hijiri Taguchi, Megumi Osawa
  • With Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Lily Franky, Arata Iura
  • Japan 2013
  • 119 mins
  • UK distribution Arrow Films

Kore-eda looks more and more like the best mapper of the terrain of Japanese families since Ozu. His piercing new film starts from a conundrum: what if it were discovered, six years after the event, that a hospital had inadvertently swapped two male babies and given them to the wrong parents? Despite marked differences in class, temperament and approaches to parenting, the Nonomiya and Saiki couples respond to this bombshell by exchanging their sons. Keita adjusts quite easily to the easy-going Seiki household, but Ryusei has a harder time of it with the Nonomiyas; his new father Ryota is quite stern and has difficulty in expressing emotion. Kore-eda, a newish father himself, admits that the distant Ryota is a kind of wry self-portrait – which helps explain why the account of a man loosening up and learning to love his wife and son is so profoundly believable. A small triumph.

Tony Rayns

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