Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Like Father Like Son

Like Father like Son has the same premise as The Other Son . Two babies get swapped in the maternity hospital and brought up by people who are not their parents. The mistake gets discovered at some point and the families have to deal with the fallout. In The Other Son we're in Israel, the babies are now eighteen, one is about to join the army and has a blood test which shows that his blood type is incompatible with that of his "parents". In Like Father Like Son, we're in Japan, the babies (also boys) are just turning six and the process of enrolling to go to primary school involves blood tests and the same scenario plays out - two sets of parents are summonsed to the hospital for an interview to get the shocking news.While the basic plot seemed very similar I thought it would be interesting to see how the subject was treated in a different country by a different director.

 Keita, a sensitive and eager-to-please only child, has been raised by Ryota, (a business man who is very focused on work)  and Midori, who does most of the hands-on parenting. They live in an apartment in a multi-story building in the city.
 Ryusei has been raised by Yudai and Yukari. Yudai is an appliance repairman  an and his family live over the shop in the suburbs. Ryusei is the oldest of three children, who worship their Dad because he is so much fun.

The Hospital's  lawyer says that in 100% of such cases the children are eventually swapped and brought up by their biological  parents. The parents seem to find this fact particularly compelling and start a programme of weekend child swapping, moving on to a complete swap fairly promptly - with the idea that it's good to make a complete break. Of course this is a recipe for everyone being miserable and missing their parents/home/child a lot so the end of the film sees an impromptu visit and the promise of a "best of both worlds approach.

Whereas the Other Son's particular focus was genetic identity and ethnicity, Like Father like Son is more an examination of relationships - fatherhood in particular. What if your son prefers the other father because he's more fun? Is your son better off with the other parents because they're wealthier? Should you deprive your son of his brothers and sisters? Should Mothers have an instinct for recognising their own baby? Should you try and emulate your own father's parenting style.

Like Father like Son is a gentle, absorbing film. Ryota's journey of self-discovery as a father is very moving and the child actors provoke a great deal of empathy.

Anne's rating 3.5/5

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