Like Father, Like Son (2013)

LikeFatherLikeSonThumbSuggested by Brad Nelson • Ryota Nonomiya is a successful businessman driven by money. When he learns that his biological son was switched with another child after birth, he must make a life-changing decision and choose his true son or the boy he raised as his own.
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7 Responses to Like Father, Like Son (2013)

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Like Father, Like Son is the story of two couples who are told six years later by the hospital that their sons were switched at birth. That plot sounds like the makings for an overwrought cryfest. But if this movie has a flaw, it’s too subtle, too lacking in appropriate emotion.

    It also moves fairly slowly. When reviewing foreign films that are out of the mainstream of American cotton-candy expectations of a car crash every twenty seconds, I like to warn my audience that there are no car crashes in this movie. No f-bombs. No disemboweling. Not even a single “shit.”

    Despite not being rated, this is G-material all the way, suitable for the whole family, although anyone under thirty is likely to be disinterested.

    It’s a no-brainer if your baby is swapped at the hospital and you discover it six months later. There might be some tugs at the heartstring, but few people would not swap them back. It just makes sense. Even at a year old, you’d probably swap the children back to the biological parents.

    But what do you do if you discover six years later that you have been raising someone else’s child? Or can you really think of it now as being someone else’s child? Is being a parent more than about biology?

    The slightly morose, and definitely non-touchy-feely, father, Ryota Nonomiya, has issues with his own father. He loves his wife and son but is not terribly demonstrative in this regard. He’s a bit old-fashioned. He thinks too much coddling will not be good for his son (at least the one he’s been raising). Is this a concerned parent bucking the trend of the overly touchy-feely culture that has caused them to jump to “safe spaces” at the drop of a hat or is he rationalizing his own inability to make a more emotional bond with his son?

    His counterpart — the father who has raised his biological son — is more of a modern father. He’s very touchy-feely, fun-loving, and loves playing with his children. He’s not the business success that Ryota is, but he seems happier. Ryota is repelled by his common touch.

    Both have adoring and good wives who are good mothers. They are torn about what to do. After raising your son for six years, being told that he is not technically yours doesn’t severe those bonds. There are legal issues intermixed in all this as well. Will the hospital have to pay damages? How did this happen in the first place?

    The story is good, but tends to drag on a bit. And it seems to avoid every opportunity for punch. One can respect the filmmakers decision not to go with excess sentimentality. But a little more could have been inserted. As it is, it’s a good story that doesn’t play out as predictably as you might expect.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s an interesting question, and (never having had children) I certainly can’t say the answer, which undoubtedly varies from person to person. Some probably would try to get their real child back no matter the age; others would decide (at different ages) that they had bonded sufficiently not to do so. (Most would no doubt be eager at least to meet the real son, even if they don’t trade.)

      Years ago I read a condensation of a comic novel, Snatch, about a team of crooks who kidnap a rich man’s son for ransom, trading in another child they had leased so that no one would wonder where the kidnapped child came from. But the leased infant is very well-behaved, unlike the kidnapped child, and the father figures he came out ahead on the deal. This leads to a series of events that result (if I remember correctly) in the kidnappers paying a ransom to restore the original situation. (Sort of like O. Henry’s great “The Ransom of Red Chief”, though not quite for the same reason.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Not to give too much away, but in this one the non-touchy-feely father at some point decides he wants both children. He’s a very competitive guy. It’s not abundantly clear why he wants both children other than “the art of the deal.” He thinks the other touchy-feely father (who really does seem like a genuinely nice fellow) can be bought, particularly because he seems so enthusiastic about getting a big damage settlement from the hospital.

        The two couples meet and spend some time together so that they can surreptitiously get to know their biological sons. The non-touchy-feely father has only Keita. The other family has Ryosuke and a little brother and older sister. There is a touching bonding story between Ryosuke and his little brother regarding potty training. Splitting up these families, if that does indeed occur, would involve more complications than one might immediately suppose.

        And if they refused to swap, would they still be due damages from the hospital? Would that factor into the thinking, especially of the touchy-feely father? Again, without giving too much away, you have to guess at a lot of this because this isn’t quite a “movie of the week” kind of film. It’s very minimalist in a Japanese sort of way.

        I like the humorous aspect. Sort of a “Take my wife…please.”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, the hospital certainly would be guilty of malpractice. I wonder if the twins in Start the Revolution Without Me could have sued the doctor once they learned the truth. Of course, by then, who knows if he was still around?

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I don’t think the movie makes clear what the settlement is, but I think there was one (which included wife-swapping for a term not to exceed two years…rimshot).

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    It’s a no-brainer if your baby is swapped at the hospital and you discover it six months later. There might be some tugs at the heartstring, but few people would not swap them back. It just makes sense. Even at a year old, you’d probably swap the children back to the biological parents

    I believe it could be very painful, especially if the child is already one year old. Infants develop quickly and start developing personalities pretty early on. As a parent watches the changes and growth of a child, strong bonds are being formed.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The equation is time-spent vs. bloodlines. If you know the baby isn’t yours, spending six months or even a year with a baby will likely be overwhelmed by the biology aspect. I mean, it’s just not your baby, and if you have parents there who have your biological offspring, the pull would be enormous to make the swap. The movie says that 100% of parents make the exchange, although it gave no data on times.

      But six years. That’s when you really getting into the aspect that there is more to parenting than biology. How could you trade away your kid at that point? And do they? You’ll have to watch and see.

      And the movie mentions that as time goes by, children tend to become like their parents even (as the movie mentions) as the kids get older they will physically look more like their biological parents (or less like their adoptive parents).

      The latter argument is given weight by the non-touchy-feely father. The revelation that his son is not his biological son in his own words “explains everything.” He thinks that’s why he’s not as touchy-feely with his son.

      On the other hand, the touchy-feeling, more modern father is very concerned about getting the biggest payout he can from the hospital because of its error. Adding substance to the whole equation is the distant relationship (and other circumstances) that the non-touchy-feeling father had not only with his own father but his step-mother.

      So call in Dr. Freud to sort this one out. And do they sort it out to everyone’s satisfaction? You’ll have to watch the movie.

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