[CIFF Capsule Review] Like Father, Like Son

What would you do if you found out the boy you've raised for six years isn't your biological son due to a mix-up at birth? In the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son, director Hirokazu Kore-eda explores two families' options. On one side is the strict, hardworking Ryota whose son is a smart, caring child; on the other side is Sakai, a carefree, small shop owner whose devotion to his family overshadows any notions of laziness. Like Father, Like Son examines the Nature vs. Nurture debate in the framework of a Japanese culture that sometimes values blood lineage a bit too much. Caution: You might end up crying. Like Father, Like Son will be screening on October 16th at 6:00pm and October 19th at 7:00pm.

[Ruby Hornet will be attending the 49th Chicago International Film Festival from 10/10 – 10/24. Be sure to follow along as we bring you coverage from the longest-running competitive international film festival in the country. You can find all of our coverage from this year’s CIFF here.]

Like Father, Like Son
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Country: Japan
CIFF Screenings: October 16, 2013 (6:00pm), October 19, 2013 (7:00pm)


How would you react when you found out the life you were living was a lie, that the child you have loved and nurtured for six years turns out to not be your biological son at all? In Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, the Nonomiya family discovers that their son, Keita, is not actually their son at all. When presented with this shocking news, they meet with another family in a similar situation. As is common with films of this nature, the Ryota Nonomiya is a strict, hardworking man raising Keita to be just as hardworking; however, their biological son, Ryusei, is a bit more “wild” and reared by the laidback, but loving Sakai family. The two families attempt to work through their situation by integrating the families with one another, but at what cost to the children?

Family plays an important role in Japanese culture, and films like Like Father, Like Son analyze just how important bloodlines are, even in modern society. Kore-eda opens up the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate with the film, but in a way that engages its audiences. Like Father, Like Son is heartbreaking at its most emotional points, funny at its most lighthearted, and entertaining and captivating throughout. There are so many ways the film could have failed, but the right tone, flow, and plot helped make Like Father, Like Son one of the best films of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival.

Score: RH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH score 8 out of 10


About Geoff Henao

About Geoff HenaoGeoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He's funny sometimes.

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