Wednesday, 30 October 2013


There's a monster at the heart of Like Father, Like Son, hiding in plain sight, and the movie is never much more involved with the lives of those around him than it is with his. The story is about his maturation from said monster into a softer, more sympathetic character, about the learning process he undergoes - it'd be more palatable if it did not imply that the suffering of others can be nullified by the level of success he attains on this emotional journey. Koreeda Hirokazu again observes a Japanese society he is so sublimely attuned to, and his passive approach to doing so provides beautiful tribute to the simplicity that is at this society's core, whether in tradition or technology. His lyrical films are about family, growth, class, gender, hopes and dreams and memories - things which concern the entire human race, whether Japanese or not, whether affected by these circumstances or not. To the point that one accepts Like Father, Like Son as such, it is a delicately, perfectly constructed gem of a film; in what initially seems to be a bold obsession with its central figure, who serves as the villain if you reduce it to fundamentals (which Koreeda never does), it is also a challenging film. But as our villain experiences this growth, and seeks not absolution but simply blind, deaf and dumb assent of the progress he has made, the impact of the errors he has committed leaves a sour taste in the mouth that nothing can wash away. But Koreeda yet again has crafted a film of surprising emotive quality, with a penultimate scene that had me on tenterhooks with the potential promise of a happy ending. I dare not reveal if that promise was upheld.