Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jan 23, 2014
    100
    Powered by Kore-eda's innate restraint and natural empathy, Like Father, Like Son takes these characters to places they never expected to be. It's unnerving for them, of course, but watching so many hearts hanging in the balance is a rare privilege for us.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 23, 2014
    100
    The questions posed by Like Father, Like Son are universal in nature and the manner in which Kore-eda addresses them makes for superior drama.
  3. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Jan 14, 2014
    100
    It's charming, gently humorous, and beautifully attuned to the interior lives of children.
  4. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Dec 23, 2013
    100
    Kore-eda has crafted a piercing, tender poem about the bittersweet ebb and flow of paternal love, and his status as Ozu's heir becomes ever more assured.
  5. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    May 23, 2013
    100
    Hirokazu has crafted a warm and lovely film that suggests the easiest thing about raising a child is embracing how complicated it can be.
  6. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Jan 30, 2014
    88
    Like Father, Like Son is always wise about the quandary faced by the two fathers and the two mothers.
  7. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Jan 17, 2014
    88
    While I’m not a parent myself, I can see how Like Father, Like Son would be a tough sit for any parent. Tough, but extremely worthwhile.
  8. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Jan 17, 2014
    88
    Like Father, Like Son has earned its right to reduce a person to a sobbing wreck.
  9. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 19, 2014
    80
    This is a difficult film, one that asks questions that can’t really be answered. There are a couple of surprises along the way, but more than anything Koreeda is getting at what really makes a family a family.
  10. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 23, 2014
    80
    Like Father, Like Son has still more on its mind — a vision of a Japan in which work will be balanced with leisure and love.
  11. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jan 22, 2014
    80
    There are passages of gravity and grace here that few other directors could unfurl. [27 Jan. 2014, p. 78]
  12. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jan 14, 2014
    80
    Even if you’re not boned up on your classic Ozu family tragedies, see it before Spielberg does his remake.
  13. Reviewed by: Simon Crook
    Oct 14, 2013
    80
    Another quiet delight from Koreeda.
  14. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Feb 19, 2014
    78
    This Japanese film by that country’s preeminent surveyor of contemporary familial relationships explores humanity’s ambivalence regarding the matter.
  15. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    Mar 6, 2014
    75
    While the case could be made that Koreeda is merely replicating the world as the blinkered Ryota sees it, the disparity between the characters’ development still leaves you feeling slightly cheated, if only because you want to see more of what this truly gifted student of human behaviour might do with them.
  16. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Feb 13, 2014
    75
    The director takes an unpromising premise - the switched-at-birth plot - and gives us something that's touching and unexpected.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jan 17, 2014
    75
    Despite the film’s emphasis on Ryota’s transformation, the most piercing moment for me came in the scene in which his wife anguishes over her guilt in not realizing right away, as a mother, that Keita was not her birth son.
  18. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jan 16, 2014
    70
    Mr. Hirokazu never overly explains his stories through the dialogue, preferring to tease out their meaning visually.
  19. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jan 16, 2014
    70
    Kore-eda is himself a father now, which may explain why his work has gotten sunnier.
  20. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jan 15, 2014
    70
    What makes Like Father, Like Son so quietly powerful is that for the most part, it doesn’t traffic in stereotypes.
  21. Reviewed by: Maggie Lee
    May 23, 2013
    70
    The director retains his controlled style even as he moves toward a more traditional narrative mode.
  22. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Feb 27, 2014
    67
    If Like Father, Like Son had set up a genuine conflict here, this could have been a fascinating, even gut-wrenching, melodrama. Instead, writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda stacks the deck by making Ryota such a highfalutin jerk and Yudai such an exemplar of cozy, loving family life.
  23. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 23, 2013
    67
    The story works wonderfully as an idea, but Kore-eda never quite manages to infuse it with the same depth of feeling his main character goes through.
  24. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Feb 13, 2014
    63
    A bittersweet musing about the nature of parenthood and about the conflict between nature and nurture, it is as banal and insightful as its title.
  25. Reviewed by: Calum Marsh
    Sep 11, 2013
    62
    The film is starved for the kind of nuance Kore-eda wields effortlessly elsewhere. What’s left without it is something merely schematic.
  26. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Jan 16, 2014
    60
    The child performances are stellar, though most striking is how the film’s sympathies spread to everyone.
  27. Reviewed by: Tom Dawson
    Dec 23, 2013
    60
    Although a bit over-neat in its contrasts between the respective families, Like Father, Like Son remains an affecting film, thanks to Fukuyama’s understated turn and Koreeda’s typically graceful visual storytelling.
  28. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    May 23, 2013
    60
    A lovely film that makes little emotional connection.
  29. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    May 23, 2013
    60
    There’s typical grace and good humour in Kore-eda’s handling of this all-but-impossible situation. But the film’s critical lack of dramatic nuance undercuts its emotional resonance.
  30. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 23, 2013
    60
    This is a sweet-natured, but essentially undemanding film from Kore-eda.
  31. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Jan 15, 2014
    58
    Like Father, Like Son has the overall depth and tenor of a Lifetime movie. Kore-Eda can do much better.
  32. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Feb 13, 2014
    50
    Like Father, Like Son grows on you, subtly and over time. Just as with the unexpected realignments forced on its characters, it may be difficult to fall in love with the movie, but eventually you do warm up to it.
  33. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Sep 17, 2013
    50
    The film scores all of its thematic points early, commenting intriguingly, if ultimately rather obviously, on the demands of Japanese patriarchy.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Apr 3, 2014
    7
    ‘Can you really love a child without your blood’?

    What would you be willing to do for a child you barely know and never helped raise? This
    question haunts parents everywhere and is the main focus of Hirokazu Koreeda’s newest film Like Father, Like Son; a gut-wrenching family drama set on the basis of mixed identities, unwanted truths and the indefinite definition of happiness. Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2013, Koreeda’s newest feature is sure to stir a pot full of mixed emotions.

    Ryota Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a determined Japanese business executive. He humbly avoids the spotlight, instead allowing his incomparable work ethic and determination to take the spotlight. He is irreplaceable professionally, but his marital life is in turmoil and he suffers failing relationships with his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) and son Keita (Keita Nonomiya). Ryota despises messy situations, so when he returns home to news of a phone call from the local hospital where their son was born, his only request is that developments won’t be messy.

    After extensive tests, Ryota and his wife learn that their son Keita was switched with another boy at birth. Ryota shelves his instinct to find out who and what is behind this mistake, and meets with the Saiki’s (Rirî Furankî and Yôko Makiwho), the people who have been raising Ryusei Saiki (Shôgen Hwang), Ryota’s son by blood.

    Devastated and determined to come up with a plan to ‘exchange’ the boys swiftly and without much emotional damage, the families agree to start switching the boys on weekends, gradually acclimatizing them to each of their new home environments.

    Although the film is set with the anticipation that the lives of both sets of parents would be showcased, Like Father, Like Son sets its sights on the Nonomiya family, focusing on Ryota; a professional who is driving his family up the class ladder in a socially driven Japan. Koreeda takes you through the different struggles of accepting the truth. At first, the Nonomiyas struggle with the reality of raising a son that is not their own. They then contemplate how they could fail to notice different physical features between father and son, suffering the cruelty of those who did notice. Ryota is the main focus of Koreeda’s scrutinizing observation while his wife Midori is left at the wayside. Koreeda seems fascinated by the idea of such a powerful and determined man grappling with such a rare, indescribable situation where no obvious victory is clear.

    Perhaps Koreeda sees a lot of himself in Ryota; the story is supposedly set around recent real-life events, although, the specifications of these factual events are never brought into the spotlight. For most of the movie, Ryota tries to fix his problems with his power, status and wealth. He immediately enlists the help of his old roommate, a powerful lawyer who wants to diffuse the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible, without ever providing Ryota with any emotional or paternal comfort. Like almost everyone in the Nonomiya family, Ryota must face the situation alone.

    Once Ryota takes the reigns on figuring out how to handle the situation, he finds that real power lies in his ability to connect with his family and disconnect from his professional life. As stern and composed as Ryota remains, he reveals himself to the audience as the most cowardly in the film by always looking to his professional life as a distraction from the conflicts in his personal life.

    In the first meeting between the parents, Koreeda introduces us to a blend of very bizarre comic relief, for a very morbid concept of grief. The majority of the comedy comes from the other father, Yudai (Furankî), an appliance repair man whose mantra in life is in stark contrast to Ryota. Yudai would rather put off a task until tomorrow. His initial idea to exchange the children as if they were simply pets, sets up a very optimistic man, but also a very flawed character. Yudai is anything but an absent father, spending most of his days making minimal sales at his shop (which also serves as the Saiki’s home), and fixing battery powered toys or flying kites with his children. Yudai is the man Ryota never wants to be, while also showing us the man Ryota never could be.

    Aside from their ambitions, the two families also differ greatly socially and economically. While the obviously lower classed family take baths together and spends their days playing together, the other family lives in an apartment that resembles a high class hotel. These little but quite obvious social differences also exhibits the film’s implicit question of nature versus nurture. It allows audiences to question whether the social classes of the families should matter, especially when talking about Keita going to the Saiki’s home. These small differences in their upbringing are never highlighted, but are always left lingering in the back of your mind.
    Full Review »
  2. Feb 17, 2014
    9
    The characters in this film seem very real - the workaholic father learns a great deal from the less affluent couple. Although the general construct (babies switched at birth) may seem like an urban legend, the great writing and acting kept me enthralled. Full Review »