Like Father, Like Son is the quietly moving, occasionally devastating film by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda. The movie, released earlier this year, recently landed on Netflix Instant and is well worth the time of anyone seeking a well made drama.
Koreeda’s picture, which he wrote and directed, is loosely inspired by a true tale of two families whose sons were switched at birth; a fact not known to them until the boys were six. The bonds between father, mother and son have had time to root. The movie is magical in its execution and how it deftly develops the relationships of all four parents and the way each views the other. We mainly follow Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama), a stoic and successful man whose home is astutely described by one character as essentially the nicest hotel in the world. Ryota and his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) have raised Keita (Ketia Ninomiya) in an upper-class manor. Keita practices learning English and has piano lessons, but also has a shyness that Ryota finds troubling. Ryota loves his son. Yet, when he finds out Keita is not his biological son, he protests that it’s no surprise.
How Ryota handles the scenario is the push of Like Father, Like Son. In this man, and via a terrific performance by Fukuyama, Koreeda has made a complicated creation. Ryota is judgmental of the family his true son was brought up by; too playful and and messy. There is envy too, especially in the way that this opposing father (an also excellent Riri Furanki) is able to connect with not just his family, but Keita. Watching Ryota wrestle with his options and the timing of them is gripping. At work, Ryota discusses the notion of taking in both boys. It’s a thought based in ease, condescension and love. He claims he will propose the possibility at the right time and Koreeda stages that moment beautifully, setting up its inevitability and springing it like a trap, on the audience and those around his protagonist.
The whole is a treasure. The way Koreeda understands the randomness of a child’s emotions. The ability to use music playfully and for tragedy. See this movie. Love this movie.