Like Father, Like Son
A film by Hirokazu Koreeda
2013 / Japan / 121 mins
5.45pm/Peks Mini Theater
In contemporary Japan, the echoes of old Japanese gender culture lingers like a ghost, with the added layers of corporate pressure, sometime self imposed. But Hirokazu Kore-eda's focus here is on the theme of fatherhood, coupled with the theme of parenthood as a biological or nurturing drive.
The film begins with a clean palate, straight lines, neat apartment and absence of chaos as the Nonomaya nuclear family skates through life, balanced on the edge of workaholism. Ryota Nonomya (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a talented architect with a large firm, his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) in captivity as the mother at home, their 6 year old son Keita (Keita Ninomya) content in the safety of their comforts.
We meet that other family, the Saikis, a happily disheveled shopkeeper (a devoted father) and his take away food shop waitress wife. They have three kids, the 6 year old Ryusei (Shogen Hwang) the eldest. This movie deals with an important settlement happening between these two families. The contrast between the families' lifestyles and paternal attitudes plays on the dilemma facing them. Sensitively performed and directed, Like Father, Like Son is a series of acutely observed insights into its themes and its social setting, as well as a close study of human nature faced with some complex issues that go to the heart of our natural genetic urges.
The film won the Cannes Jury Prize and was nominated for Best Picture by the Japanese Academy, among a raft of awards and nominations including several from the Asia Pacific Screen Awards held on the Gold Coast.
Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda was born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at TV Man Union. Sneaked off set to film Lessons from a Calf (1991) is first feature, Maboroshi no hikari (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn from his own experiences whilst filming _August Without Him (1994), won jury prizes at Venice and Chicago. The main themes of his oeuvre include memory and loss, death and loss, and the intersection of documentary and fictional narratives.
In a short period of time, Hirozaku Koreeda has gained a solid reputation as one of the most significant figures of contemporary Japanese cinema. His oeuvre is currently comprised of eight films including his television documentary work with TV Man Union, Inc. and his narrative films (After Life, Maborosi) which reflect the contemplative style and pacing of such luminaries as Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-liang. He has become a cinematographic tightrope walker who almost unnoticeably switches between fictitious and real territories, between narration and invention, the private and the public.