Like Father, Like Son

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  • Drama
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In a domestic crisis that’s hard to fathom, two Japanese families of vastly different economic circumstances learn that their six-year-old boys were switched at birth. Mortified, the hospital advises a swap before it’s too late, but that moment has long passed (the kids hurt over it too much): Hirokazu Kore-eda’s nuanced heartbreaker resourcefully makes drama out of marital recriminations, absentee parenting and the prickly question of nature versus nurture.

In the director’s sympathetic style, no one is strictly a villain: A nurse offers a shocking revelation, but it’s not as harsh as some of the dialogue that flies between torn parents, vying for the custodial high ground. (The movie is also rooted in a clash of bank accounts, with money not always prevailing.) The way forward for both clans involves a mutual concern extending beyond blood, making this a potent social-issues film from Japan’s most consistently excellent voice. Even if you’re not boned up on your classic Ozu family tragedies, see it before Spielberg does his remake.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

Release details

Rated: N/R
Release date: Friday January 17 2014
Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Screenwriter: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Masaharu Fukuyama
Machiko Ono
YĆ“ko Maki
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