28 December 2015



This is a gorgeous Japanese film, but I'm warning you, you'll need to keep a hanky (or three!) on standby because it's a full-on weepie as well. I watched it during the Christmas of 2015 and it made for perfect teatime family viewing. No swears, no violence and absolutely no nookie. (Haha, a load of people have just stopped reading...!) It's also won a load of rather impressive awards as well, namely at the Cannes and Vancouver film festivals, so you know it's going to be good.

On the DVD box, it's referred to as 'a piercing, tender poem about the bittersweet ebb and flow of paternal love.' I couldn't have put it better myself. If your preference is for films with explosions, car chases, machine guns and bank heists in them, however, you'll have to look elsewhere, I'm afraid.  LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON is strictly for those who like gentle, thoughtful dramas about family values and what it really means to be a parent. Have a load more people stopped reading...? They have...? Well, let 'em, haha. The sensitive and tender souls among us will carry on right to the end. So there...

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON is the story of two very different families. Given that a parent's ultimate nightmare would be (God forbid!) the death of a child or the knowledge that their child has been harmed in some way by someone, then we'll say that these two families have to cope with a nightmare only slightly less traumatic than either of the above. When their sons are six years old, they discover that they were swapped at birth by a young nurse with an axe to grind.

Discovering that their sons are not really their sons causes a cataclysmic shift in the Nonomiya family in particular. The dad Ryoto, an important businessman, is a cold and emotionally neglectful husband and father to his wife Midori and his adorable little boy Keita. He wants his son to be a 'winner' in life like himself. He has no time for fun or cuddles or play that's not instructive.

The other family, on the other hand, are much more easy-going. They're not successful like the Nonomiya family- in fact, they're shopkeepers- but they go in for hugs and rough and tumble and all the nice family things that the much more restrained Ryoto seems to be incapable of doing.

When Ryoto's own father encourages him to swap Keiti for the son of his blood, the emotionally constipated Ryoto (Well, he is! He needs a bloody plumber to unclog the giant blockage he's carrying around inside him. There, I've said it.) decides that that's the proper course of action to take. Against his wife's wishes, he carries out the exchange. Both families (including both little boys) then have to live with the consequences of this decision.

But can Ryoto live with the increasing knowledge that maybe he hasn't been as good a father as he could have been to the cute-as-a-button Keita? He is also made to see from various quarters that maybe family isn't just all about the people to whom you're biologically related by DNA. Maybe a family can also be made up of the people you live with and love, or the little boy you've brought up from birth, believing him to be your own. But does Ryoto come to this realisation too late...?

The acting is impeccable from both adults and children alike, but the two little boys are so adorable that they outshine the adults in every scene they're in. We also learn a lot in the film about the pressure placed on Japanese kids to do well in school and in life in general. I think that's part of the whole problem. Little Keita has to do an entrance exam to get into his flippin' elementary school. An entrance exam at the age of six! I don't think I'd have been able for that at that age. At six, I was still learning to tie my own shoelaces. Matter of fact, I still have trouble with that today, haha.

The relationship between Ryoto and Keita is in stark contrast to that between the other father and son, Yukari and Ryusei Saiki. We can all, as viewers, see what Ryoto needs to do to fix things but, as is the case in real life, these things take time, effort and sometimes a lot of emotional pain to work things out. Especially complicated family situations like this one. The film is beautifully-made and the journey we take with the Nonomiyas and the Saikis is a sweet and worthwhile one. Not a car chase in sight, mind you, but it's none the worse for that. Catch you guys later. Cheerio for now.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers' Centre, The International Bar, Toners' Pub (Ireland's Most Literary Pub), the Ha'penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland's Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home. In 2003, she was invited to be a guest on Niall Boylan's 98FM late-night radio talk show purely on the basis of having a 'sexy voice.'
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director's Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:


No comments:

Post a comment