a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Like Father Like Son / Soshite chichi ni naru / そして父になる

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250px-Like_Father,_Like_Son-p01It’s a simple conceit. Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) workaholic father to a sweet and average 6-year old son, Keita (Keita Ninomiya) finds out that Keita was switched at birth. He’s not his biological son. Thus begins Hiokazu Koreeda’s exploration into the question of nature vs. nurture, or more precisely lack-of-nurture vs. nurturing and loving. Ryota convinces his reluctant wife, Midori (Machiko Ono) to go with it and he ends up taking his real son, Ryusei (Shogen Hwang) from happy-go-lucky Yudai (Lily Franky) and Yukari (Yoko Maki), who run a kid-friendly and nurturing household somewhere in the burbs of Tokyo. Of course, Ryota’s got a lot to learn as a father as he begins to stifle any creativity out of Ryusei. And Keita begins to come out his shell in his new digs. The story’s somewhat predictable, but the journey is simultaneously heartbreaking an uplifting. Koreeda’s canny script carefully works the motifs and ideas. His direction of kids keeps getting better. And the final shot creates a vision of what the modern Japanese family can be.

Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2013.

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