Like Father, Like Son

2014

Like Father, Like Son

Critics Consensus

Sensitively written, smartly directed, and powerfully performed, Like Father, Like Son uses familiar-seeming elements to tell a thought-provoking story.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 100

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,839
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Movie Info

Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a successful Tokyo architect who works long hours to provide for his wife, Midori (Machiko Ono) and six-year-old son, Keita. But when a blood test reveals Keita and another baby were switched at birth, two very different families are thrown together and forced to make a difficult decision while Ryota confronts his own issues of responsibility and what it means to be a father. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON extends the Japanese cinema tradition of familial exploration to deliver a gentle and moving story of personal redemption that playfully navigates its way through the drama. (c) iFC Films

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Cast

Masaharu Fukuyama
as Nonomiya Ryota
Machiko Ono
as Nomiya Midorino
Yoko Maki
as Saiki Yukari
Lily Franky
as Saiki Yudai
Keita Ninomiya
as Keita Nonomiya

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Critic Reviews for Like Father, Like Son

All Critics (100) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (87) | Rotten (13)

  • There are times when the script seems just too schematic - as if Kore-eda has decided that we should all sit still while he lays out the nature versus nurture debate. Then the small truths which enrich each scene take over.

    May 2, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film's climax, built around the layout of a particular Tokyo location, resolves this motif in a simple, elegant and wholly satisfying way.

    Apr 16, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • If you've seen any of Koreeda's previous films, and especially the wrenching children-alone saga Nobody Knows, it won't surprise you to learn that the observation of children in Like Father, Like Son is unfailingly acute ...

    Mar 7, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Koreeda's film never feels gimmicky; he uses the situation to examine both nature and nurture while dealing with ties that simply can't be broken. "Like Father, Like Son" ponders the meaning of family.

    Feb 21, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Writer and director Hirokazu Koreeda does not pretend that there are easy answers in his film, which at times plays almost like a fable. But the emotions and heartbreak are always grounded in reality.

    Feb 19, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • If you've seen Hirokazu Koreeda's films - Nobody Knows, Still Life, I Wish - then just the announcement that a new one, Like Father, Like Son, has arrived is all you need to know.

    Feb 14, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Like Father, Like Son

  • Aug 22, 2015
    Koreeda brings a great deal of his usual delicacy and sensibility to a story that doesn't offer easy answers, even if - given the complex nature of the subject in itself - it feels like it doesn't go as deep as it could into its themes and remains a bit more redundant than insightful.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 22, 2014
    I'm debating whether or not I should give the film 4 or 4.5 stars. In the long run it doesn't really make a difference, nobody's gonna end up watching this film based on whether or not I give it 4 or 4.5 stars. Regardless, sometimes as I write these reviews, upon going back and analyzing it, I end up liking the film more or less, obviously depending upon the quality of said film. So, as of now the rating is 4 stars, if it's 4.5 when I publish it then you'd know it was better than I originally thought it was. Enough of that however, this might be the best Japanese film I've seen since Departures, a film I gave a perfect rating to. The film certainly has familiar themes, switched at birth, there's even a show that deals with this concept. But whereas others use the concept to tell a melodramatic story, this uses its more contemplative tone, a Hirozaku Koreeda trademark, to tell a thought-provoking character study that is heartbreaking without ever feeling exploitative. And I mean heartbreaking in the sense of what it must be like for the parents, who've spent six years caring and nurturing this child, growing to love him/her and then having the bombshell dropped that they were given the wrong child. It brings up a lot of interesting questions about this type of situation and the pain it must bring to those involved. And how this affects the kids as well, they don't know what's going on. They just know that they're being removed from the household they've known, Keita from his privileged household and Ryusei from his more modest but happier household. Understandably enough, the kids don't really comprehend why they've been uprooted from their normal situation. They, very obviously, want to go back to the place they grew up on and to be with the people both of them know to be their parents, whether biological or not. All of this is done very subtly, of course. I think the film's subtlety and contemplative tone was certainly needed for this type of story. It would've felt exploitative and cheap if there had been any other method used. The story is certainly very layered, there's a reason why Nonomiya, Keita's adoptive father, I suppose, is as detached and cold as he is with everyone. You don't really get to find out what happened, but it's got something to do with his stepmother. Which reveals why he acts the way he does once he finds out that Keita isn't his biological son. It's in no way acceptable that he'd be so distant to his son, regardless of whether they share the same blood or not, but it does reveal a side of his past that clearly has affected him greatly. One of the film's strongest points, other than its writing and beautiful acting, is how the story looks at how it affects everybody involved and not just Nonomiya or his wife. It's an exploration of nature vs nurture, social structure and how that affects the relationships between both families. Nonomiya looks at Keita's biological mother and father with contempt and superiority because of his wealth. In a cliche theme, however, the other couple, with their more simple and modest lifestyle have achieved a level of happiness that Nonomiya and his family simply have not. So there's the universal theme that money doesn't buy you real happiness. It can improve your social stature and give you a comfortable life, but not much else. It's a tired theme, but at least this movie uses it in an effective way. As mentioned the acting is absolutely fabulous, completely naturalistic and organic. It lends an air of realism and credibility to the story. There's no over-the-top theatrics, a lot of the strongest moments, dramatically, are incredibly subtle. Like when Nonomiya goes to pick up Ryusei after he runs away from "home" to go back to his real home with his real family. The film has an emotional depth that doesn't rely on the melodramatic, as many films of this ilk would probably do. Of course with its contemplative, quiet, style, this film might not really reach as big an audience as a film of this quality probably deserves. In spite of all that, I found the movie to be incredibly compelling. Its insight and emotional depth more than make up for any issues that people could come up with. At least that's my view on it. With that said, this is an excellent film, I think I'm sticking with 4 stars, but don't let that mislead you. This is still a pretty incredible movie if you ask me and it's one that definitely asks a lot of interesting questions. I'd definitely recommend it if you appreciate Koreeda's type of filmmaking.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2014
    A delicate and introspective drawing of parenthood. Its gentle pace immerses us in the quotidian and thorny duty of raising children, and despite the misfortune that sets the path of the two families to cross, it leaves an incredibly tender and hopeful resolution.
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Apr 19, 2014
    The ending is left to the viewers interpretation, which is the only disappointing part of this movie. The subject matter didn't especially appeal to me, and I often find this type of movie cloying, but I was pleasantly surprised by and really enjoyed this.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer

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