Like Father, Like Son ~ Review ~ Dramajjang
“You see, you’ve always stepped on the gas.
There are moments when one should hit the brakes.”
Hirokazu Koreeda’s brainchild Like Father, Like Son was introduced to me right on time by a friend since the same director/screenwriter’s Our Little Sister/Umimachi Diary was already a part of my future plans. Taking into consideration all the aforementioned parameters and knowing that I can rarely say no to a highly promising slice of life film, one could say that Like Father, Like Son and me met at one of the crossroads of fate.
The lives of Ryota Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori Nonomiya (Machico Ono) drastically changed the moment the hospital informed them that the 6-year-old Keita Nonomiya (Keita Ninomiya) wasn’t their biological son. Yudai Saiki (Lily Franky) and Yukari Saiki (Yoko Maki) found themselves in a like-minded position since Ryusei Saiki (Shogen Hwang) wasn’t their biological son either. Six years after the babies had been switched at birth the two families will have to make tough and crucial decisions while both children will inevitably find themselves right in the eye of the storm.
Where do all these precious memories and bonds that have been forged throughout the years go to once the truth comes to the surface? And what happens to all these unborn memories that never had the chance to blossom because of a single but life-intersecting mistake? Are blood relations enough to negate what was glowing twice as brightly moments before the eclipse took place?
Like Father, Like Son finds itself there where normality shatters by the crosswinds once the unimaginable starts spreading its wings for a flight into the unknown. The scenario lays emphasis on Ryota and Midori’s family without neglecting Yudai and Yukari’s importance when it comes to the storyline’s flow. On the contrary, they are essential in reflecting everything Midori was craving for and Ryota had been missing throughout the years and the way the careerist life he’d been leading was affecting his own family.
The signs were there, but everything became more palpable once Ryota found himself in the shadow of the circumstances and under the weight of the forthcoming decisions he would have to make. One’s memories and experiences play an important part in a personality’s ongoing design, but thinking out of the box and eventually escaping it once the walls start closing in is of major importance before everything starts spiraling out of control.
Like Father, Like Son is the silent clash of two different worlds with the concept of family being at their center. We’re talking about different backgrounds, points of view and courses in life being directly affected by the past at the present’s asymmetry. Even though everything’s being mainly seen through a paternal prism, Like Father, Like Son doesn’t set aside the very soul and essence of motherhood and masterfully crafts its soulful characteristics in a background that emerges to the surface in a meaningful and heartfelt way.
The cinematography was eloquently reflecting the emotional and setting variances through the natural warmth at Yudai and Yukari’s house and a certain prudent aesthetic pleading for blissful disorder inside Ryota and Midori’s apartment. Wherever Like Father, Like Son was shot, each and every place was evoking its own vibes given its indoors or outdoors characteristics and the characters’ internal world.
Masaharu Fukuyama shone through Ryota’s rational and ostensibly rigid world, but also through his very own emotional conflicts. Machico Ono’s gradually shattering world was echoing amid shards of light whereas Lily Franky and Yoko Maki were magnificent through their ordinary, inspiring and full of life characters. I was pleased to find Jun Fubuki as a meaningful maternal figure here since i had already loved her interpretation in Deto – Koi to wa Donna Mono Kashira – a few months ago. Kirin Kiki was a hilarious yet meaningful Playstation grandmother, Jun Kunimura had his own fair share of wisdom and Isao Natsuyagi was reflecting his own like father like son vibes!
Setting aside the parental figures, observing Like Father, Like Son through the eyes of a child was essential. It was adding an even purer and more powerful dimension in the overall ambiance with all the necessary signals being transmitted through childhood’s uniqueness. Keita Ninomiya’s magnificent acting and multifaceted expressions were skyrocketing the film’s elegant tension. Shogen Hwang as Ryusei Saiki was spot on in a not so demanding yet important character.
If I could think of Like Father, Like Son in a more symbolic way then it would resemble a world of flowers. Imagine two gardeners with each one of them losing one seed, but somehow, each seed found itself in one another’s hands. Both of them watered these seeds in their own way and watched after them with care until the first petals started shyly making their appearance. If they had to switch these seeds that had already turned into flower buds after a stem cutting process in order to bring them back to their rightful owner, would they still be loving gardeners or they would turn into amateur florists? Most importantly, would the flowers keep blooming as beautifully as they used to without their roots? It may depend on the flower, but children are more fragile and complex and their first years in a familial environment are irreplaceable.
Like Father, Like Son is a barefoot walk on the steep pathways of parenthood, a heartrending and heartfelt yet daring attempt somewhere between blood relations and bonding rivers.