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.
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.
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