What a jewel this movie was! Critically acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda not only served as the director for the jewel of a movie but also as the writer and editor. This movie was just so beautiful, melancholic and pensive all the while telling a very emotional and touching story. I was so impressed with the density of the movie. I like it when movies are implicit in addressing us as the audience but I think that a dense like such as this works better being explicit so that it allows us to gauge and decipher the hidden meaning with the movie. And that is what Like Father, Like Son has done. Its plot is simple on text but brought on screen, it spoke of so much more than just written words. It spoke from the heart and that is exactly what this movie set out to tell.
LFLS is about two couples who find that their six year-old son was accidentally swapped at birth and is being raised by two families of different socioeconomic status. The two couples are faced with the question of blood or bond that they have built up with their non-biological son throughout the six years of companionship. Biological relations are one thing but that does not mean that it is everything. In fact, at times if not most times, the bond forged between two strangers people holds a much deeper connection over any blood relationships. These two relationship ties come into play here and the two couples must really question the extent of the importance of physical and biological bonds.
Ryota Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a diligent architecture who works earnestly to provide for his loving wife Midori Nonomiya (Machiko Ono) and their son Keita Nonomiya (Keita Nonomiya). However, Ryota and Midori’s all-too-smooth world gets flipped upside down when a DNA test shows them biologically unrelated to Keita. It’s not just their world but also Yudai Saiki (Lily Franky) and Yukari Saiki (Yoko Maki)’s world as they discover Ryusei Saiki (Shogen Hwang), the son who they have raised up for six years, is actually someone else’s son. The lives of the two families as they learn what is the true meaning behind love.
I thought the movie was well solidly written and brought to screens. It really tugs at your heartstrings, making you feel the emotions that were running through each of the characters. Each of the actors worked very well together to bring about the movie that LFLS was. The movie was mainly centred on Ryota and his relationship with Keita and I felt that it was really brought to light despite the bigger picture being the two intertwined families. Keita is not Ryota’s biological son and immediately after he found out about that, he started to distant himself away from Keita all the while trying to bridge the gap between him and his biological son Ryusei and putting the two boys back with their biological parents. It was a such a sweet-sorrow watch to see the two families adapt and adjust to their new family arrangements because we could see what was running through their minds except they couldn’t really see that.
In psychology and biology, there is that constant debate between nature vs. nuture and it was definitely nature that won out here. The bond that you form right after birth to the people around is the strongest of them all, much like your readiness to learn languages during your early early childhood. Once it’s there, it’s there for life. It’s an attachment that will always be there continually dragging you back towards it. Despite the distant between Keita and his adopted parents after the shocking discovery that Keita is not their son, it is Keita who they are continually thinking of. Keita has grown up a lot like Ryota and Midori much like how Ryusei has grown up a lot like Yudai and Yukari. The influences and teachings that have shaped up their children in their six years in not something that can easily be wiped away. It’s just like they way how Ryusei uses his chopsticks; he has gotten so used this way that it is going to take a very long time for him to adapt to a different way.
This shocking discovery really made Ryota question his role as a son and a father and to a lesser extent, a husband. It made him ponder about just what exactly these roles cover. His relationship with Keita allowed him to really reassess the role that he has been playing as a son. Although there wasn’t much focus on the relationship that he had with his parents, for the little focus that it did have, it gave quite an impact. I guess what stood out the most was the relationship that he had with his stepmother. It was something quite distant but was very much a reflection of what his relationship with Keita has come to be. It was when he apologised to his stepmother that really pushed forth his bond with Keita.
Finding out that Keita is not her biological son did not change Midori’s relationship with Keita. Keita might not be her biological son but he is her son nonetheless and that is something that she cannot overlook. Despite the discovery, it did not change her relationship with Keita and in fact, it made her relationship with Keita stronger. She loves him with all her heart and the fact that he is not her biological son does not change anything. I love that we get to see her treat him in the same way as before which shows her love towards him is peerless.
By far my favourite character would have to be Keita. I love love love that little munchikin! He is so adorable and carried a lot of the story despite his little size. He might be little but he knows very well what is going on around him. He understands that he is being pushed away but he makes no tantrum out of it. He just calmly deals with it even though his face shouts sadness. I just want to cuddle him up! One of my favourite scenes was when he was at the park with Ryota and declined when Ryota offered him the camera. It was something very beautiful and little Keita was just sensational there. There was so much poignant feeling in just that one small scene and boy, it is one powerful scene. Another one of my favourites was when Keita went to hide when Ryota came to the Saiki’s household to pick up Ryusei. That was brilliant because it again spoke so much of the little Keita. Keita is very mature for his age, understanding and accepting what is going on around him. Keita is a very well-scripted character with every action that he takes speaking thousands and thousands of words. The movie was really his story to be told and that’s just what he did.
Relationships are something very important in life. Blood relations play an important factor in determining the various relationships in our lives but more often than not, it is undermined by the bond forged through the accumulation of day-to-day associations. Ryota, Midori and Keita are a family just as Yudai, Yukari and Ryusei are a family. These familial relations are not something that they can deny or push away. They are a family regardless of blood relations and that’s really what counts for them.
I enjoyed every aspect of this movie so much that I watched it twice in a row, cried and had the same forlorn feelings throughout it all. It hit everything that it should and delivered spectacularly yet in a very low-key way. It allowed you to connect with the characters and that’s something that makes this drama stand out from just merely being good. In short, just watch this movie. I can guarantee with certainty that LFLS is a moving watch. It’s even getting a remake after catching the eyes of renowned director Steven Spielberg and that must mean that this is a must-watch.
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