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on 2 December 2013
Hirokazu could never been accused of being a stylist, his films are traditionally Japanese in their minimalism. In that regard he champions something much more interesting - substance. He takes a vague topic like 'what does it mean to be a father?' and takes it in some trite narrative directions that work consistently thanks to the emotional truth weaved into his script. There were countless occasions where I laughed at the simple headed honesty of the kids only to be fighting off tears in the next scene. That ability of Hirokazu's to capture the wonderful innocence of childhood is second to none. LIkewise, his ability to evoke tragedy and beauty in the simplest of gestures isn't far behind. Film of the Year material.
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on 17 December 2013
This wonderful Japanese film deservedly won the 2013 Jury Prize at Cannes. It is the most natural and touching film I've seen this year.
Two boys are placed with the wrong parents just after birth and we join the two families when the boys are six and lawyers are trying to unscramble the mix-up.
Wealthy and ambitious Ryota and Midori have been rearing the biological son of easy-going and biophilous Yudai and Yukari who have themselves raised the hard-driven couple's young boy in a more loving and laissez-faire atmosphere.
Hirokazu Kooreda's direction teases superb acting from the whole cast, including the children. We become so enmeshed with the families that we don't so much 'watch' them as live with them through their dilemma.
This stunning naturalistic film explores so much more than the well-worn nature/nurture debate. It details the personal cost of arch ambition, the meaning of love, duty, attachment and separation.
For me the film turns, not on the axis of the fathers (who tend to dominate screen time) but on the quite extraordinary skill of the two women who must resolve an almost impossible puzzle. In these roles Yoko Maki and Machiko Ono both deserve Oscars.
Peter Bradshaw (Guardian) described the film as "undemanding". I completely disagree, it is compelling viewing. My vote goes with the Jury.
The film will be available from Feb. 2014.
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This is a Blu-ray only review - no additional DVD is provided. The dialogue is only in Japanese, and the only subtitles are in English.

A little boy named Keito lives with his parents in a luxury apartment in Tokyo - at least, that's what the three of them have been assuming for the past 6 years. His father is a successful and hard-working architect who wants his son to go the best private school, his parental priorities aimed at securing the boy's long-term success. So consumed is he with his work that, although he is not yet conscious of it, he has never really spent much time with his son and although it's undoubtedly a happy household, father and son have never truly bonded. Then comes devastating news from the hospital where Keito was born. He is not their son at all.

This is an intelligent, moving and thought-provoking drama that is likely to make you wonder what you would do in the same situation. Although there are four parents involved, the emphasis of the story is on the evolving reactions of Keito's father. In many ways it's a learning experience for him, not in the obvious sense of discovering that his son is not his own, but in the ways in which he gradually comes to realise what being a father should be, and how different this could be from his previous concept of fatherhood. The acting is outstanding across the cast, including that of the two 6 year old boys, the script is spot-on and while it gives each person the chance to give vent to their different emotions it is never melodramatic and at all times utterly convincing. The story opens a window into two very different worlds of parenthood, in essence represented by a couple who have a lot of money and another who have very little. There's much more to it than that, however.

Directed by the acclaimed Hirokazu Koreeda, this film received the Prix du Jury at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival in May of 2013, the first Japanese film to receive an award in the competition division since Naomi Kawase's "The Mourning Forest," in 2007. It will fall under the radar of thousands of film-lovers and this is a shame because it is a true masterpiece of its kind. If you are reading these words and you're only half-interested in buying it, do not hesitate. It will live long in the memory. Very strongly recommended.
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Could you give up your son if you found out he wasn’t yours, after nurturing him for six years from birth? Thats the question posed to two couples in Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film ‘Like Father, Like Son’, who found out that their sons were given to the wrong families in the hospital.

One family consists of Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midorino (Machiko Ono), father and mother to their only son Keita (Keita Ninomiya). Ryusei (Shogen Hwang) is the other son, whose father and mother Yukari (Yoko Maki) and Yudai (Lily Franky) also have two more young children. The hospital officials arranged the first of many meetings between the two couples. After getting over the shock of what happened, the adults began negotiating with each other over the fates of their sons.

Both sets of couples couldn’t be any more stereotypically different. Ryota and Midorino are a well-heeled conservative couple with a sensibly behaved son to match their elegantly co-ordinated lifestyle. The jovial Yukari and Yudai are a more personable, care-free version of the former couple who believe family comes first and to hell with anything else. This collision of opposites starts off a bad reaction in the much more judgemental Ryota, an extremely pompous architect who thinks that only the ones who focus and work the hardest deserve anything in life. By now your own mind is hurtling through various thoughts on what you would do, which is carefully realised in this film. Is the conclusion inevitable? Everyone but Ryota seems to know what should be done, and the film focuses on his troubled and often quietly appalling behaviour.

Yukari and Yudai accepted that Ryusei was different to themselves and their other children. They never knew what was to transpire, but just as parents should they treated him no differently to their other children. Ryota and Midorino had no idea either that Keita was not their son, Midorino brought her son up as only a mother should. But Ryota couldn’t grasp his son not having any of the traits he admires in himself, repeatedly castigating him for his constant failures. Upon finding the truth, Ryota says to Midorino “That explains everything”, much to her anger.

If you’ve seen any of Kore-eda’s previous films, you’ll know that he has quickly become a master of naturalistic observational cinema. He doesn’t disappoint with ‘Like Father, Like Son’, another excellent film where the children rise above the adults inability to rationalise life’s cruel twists. The adults spend months and months deliberating over the nature-versus-nurture argument, but its the children who remind them of the too easily neglected responsibility of parenthood. Wherever and however they live, and whomever raises them, these boys will grow according to the world that they inhabit. It is they, and not their parents, who adapt the quickest and its they who teach their parents how to come to the same conclusion.

Rating: 8/10
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 February 2014
I think that 99.9% of parents would have solved this riddle in one second flat but let's just say that this is Japan and we're in a different culture, so it's not going to be that easy! Nevertheless, it's an awful dilemma for any parent, so we all have to go through this two hours of pain hoping for the right result?
The two men / dads, are like chalk and cheese. One is buried in his career, consumed by his status and position and what he thinks it gives the family? His wife looks after his son! He's not a bad dad but not a very good one either - he's a provider I suppose?
The other dad has simple views on rights and wrongs but is not materialistic in any way; his life revolves around making his children happy as best he can.
The wives and mothers are everything that you would want them to be except for being more forthright and belligerent regarding their, and their sons' situation? I was left with the conclusion that the children were put through too much and unnecessarily so?
This film really does pull on the emotions. The acting by all (especially the children) is first class. Yes, you do feel like shouting at the screen but are compelled to stay to the very end - it's a mission!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 12 January 2015
This is a Japanese film (good sub titles) that will have you reaching for the tissues - in a good way. It is about a young couple who have a lovely little six year old boy. The father is a high flying, go getting executive who spends more time at the office than he does with his family. The son is destined to take after his father so is `hot housed' in educational terms, even having to learn the piano in his miniscule spare time.

Then they get called back to the hospital where their son was born. Once there they are told that there has been a bit of a mix up and their son is not theirs but belongs to another family who have also been given their real son.
So both families have to meet to try to find a way out of the mess and heartache is not going to be too far away.

This is a two hour film and is so well filmed and directed that you just don't notice. The children are absolutely brilliant. Some of the scenes must have been very hard to act as the emotions must have been ramped right up. I absolutely loved it and yes got a bit moist eyed towards the end which is a very god thing so I can absolutely easily recommend.
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on 13 July 2015
Although this is not a groundbreaking film in cinematic terms it's a very sensitive and moving account of a devastating human dilemma. To find out that your six-year old child is not yours at all must be high on any parent's list of unthinkable nightmares. We follow the impact on two families whose babies were switched at birth in a small country hospital. The principal focus is on a high-income couple living in a smart apartment in the city. The other family is much humbler in social terms, running an electrical goods store in a seedy-looking town near the city.
The central theme is the issue of parenthood – do you love your child because it's of your own blood, or simply because you have accepted it as yours? Does it matter if this turns out to be false? But the film also highlights the importance we place on social success and the effect this has on our offspring. When the richer couple - he's a high-flying architect - find out that their son is not theirs, the husband at first views this revelation almost with relief. So that's why his boy is not as bright as he should be! But he's not all bad, this man, and much of the film follows his attempts to work out what he really feels about his son and the whole business of being a father.
His counterpart, the store owner, is a cheerful guy and a good family man who seems more able to accept the situation but realises there's money to be gained. The hospital where the babies got switched owes them a generous compensation.
Meanwhile the two mothers do far better at treating this as a shared disaster, making friends with each other and trying to handle the emotional stresses, not least those caused by their husbands.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the film is that it's set in Japan with its rigid and distant formality, where the most anyone can expect in the way of physical comforting is an embarrassed rub on the back. The director reflects the coldness of social interactions in the bleakness of the settings, from the characterless perfection of the richer couple's apartment to the run-down poverty of the storekeeper's home. Separating the two places is a flat, ugly landscape dominated by high-voltage pylons, clearly chosen to be symbolic of something. There's a lot to think about in this film!
The photography is often interesting and the acting is excellent. Both little boys at the centre of the anguish are well chosen and make a good job of things. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 22 June 2014
This was a really good film. It was quite sad as it clearly showed the flaws in the family who "had everything". The poorer family were such a loving family. It made you think what would you do in those circumstances? The characters were very realistic.
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on 12 September 2014
Ever since "Daremo shiranai (Nobody knows)" Kore-Eda made few but excellent movies. The best performance was that of Yuya Yagira in "Nobody knows", my favourite story is "Kiseki (I wish)" - but "Like father , like son" is another really strong movie, excellent performed and with a highly interesting story. I also love the always intersting soundtracks of Kore-Eda's movies. I'm really glad this came out subtitles in the UK and thankfully on Blu-ray in good quality - unlike the Swiss release that is on DVD only. For people who love Japanese cinema this movie is another MUST!
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on 19 December 2014
As a major Japan enthusiast i was very excited for this movie, the trailer really had an impact on me and i was curious to what it would actually be like, i watched the movie with my Fiancé who is not as into Japanese cinema as myself, she absolutely loved the film, as did i. the movie felt 'Human' and you cared for all of the characters, the story was great, the acting was great, the cinematography was amazing and the music just topped it off!

i loved this movie so much, and as a parent you can relate to the characters in a way, in no doubt this is one of my favourite movies to come from the amazing Japan, and even from any country!
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