Like Father, Like Son at the 2014 Eiga Sai

 

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I had (5) shortlisted films from this year’s Eiga Sai line-up: Homeland; Like Father, Like Son; A Story of Yonosuke; Until the Break of Dawn; and Wolf Children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch the other 4 films just because it’s so hard to be lining up again and again after each screening. At the very least, I was able to see Like Father, Like Son which is one of those (5) films I really wanted to see. Still, I feel bad on not seeing Kenichi Matsuyama in Homeland.

There are about 14 films included in the line-up but it wasn’t possible for me to see every film. I narrowed down the films according to their synopsis and trailers. The synopsis and trailer should be interesting enough, for me to have it on my shortlist.

Prior to seeing the film, I recall my third brother mentioning to me a Japanese film about a family whose son got switched at birth, and when I saw the trailer to this I immediately thought this could be the film he was talking about.   It’s wonderful enough that I was able to see last year’s Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner in cinemas for free this July 13th, Sunday .

What got me interested to this film aside from my brother’s recommendation is that it’s centered from a father’s perspective. It’s not very often that I get to see a “sublimely moving” (Variety) story about what it truly means to be a father. It’s very common to see films taking on stories about motherly love, thoughts, perspectives, ideals, genuine heart and affection to her children, but not so much about a father’s take on his role not just the head of his family but more importantly on paternal love and expression.

It tackles the story of a successful father who faces a crossroad for the first time, and starts to question himself if he was ever really a father or if he ever will be. The biggest decision he will ever make between choosing “nurture or nature.” 

My own dad is the usual kind of father that I know of, someone like Ryota. My dad is Chinese and like Ryota who is Japanese, I’ve always thought that a father with these nationalities are very traditional and strict with their ways. Someone who’s strict inside and outside, someone who’s decision you can never bend, someone who looks like all man and no emotions at all, someone who likes things to be in order and proper, someone who wants an answer right away when asking, someone who wants his children to take after him, someone who’s the pure authority. I wasn’t close to my dad as I was often afraid of him and thus I make it a point to avoid making mistakes even the most trivial ones.

It’s common that I often see a mother being more close to her children than a father. I guess it’s the innate motherly care and nature that a woman has that makes her the softer person or the more understanding parent. But with Like Father, Like Son; we see the unknown side of a father. The side that people don’t often see, also because a father  doesn’t want to show it. With the film, I came to realize that a father has his emotional side too. That’s it’s not just a mother who is going through a lot, a father has to go some rough patches too at some point of his life as a parent.

Like Father, Like Son to me is great testament to what fatherhood should really be or really mean. That being a father is defined not only by how great a provider and achiever he is to his family to give them a good life, education and future; but also on being a father who also supports his family emotionally and spiritually and most importantly being human.

One defining moment for me in the film, Ryota was looking at the pictures of Ryusei (his real son) on his camera when he saw the many photos of him taken by Keita (the son he raised) without him knowing and then he cried. I cried with him. That part was a crucial one for him that made him realize one important thing.

 

 

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