As discussed over on Japan Monogatari, Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu's film Shoplifters (万引き家族) is set to hit non-Japanese shores in wide release in October. However, Kore-eda has been making deep, moving films before he grabbed Japan's first Palm d'or in over 20 years.
Like Father, Like Son (Japanese: そして、父になる) tells the story of two families whose children are accidentally switched at birth. Years later, the hospital breaks the news, and both sets of parents agree to attempt to "correct" the mistake by having the kids switch households. One of the fathers, Ryouta, is a typical work-obsessed Japanese salaryman working his way up the corporate ladder. His family - including the child he believed was his son - are almost strangers to him. The other parents, the Saikis, live in poverty, but are highly engaged with their kids, and have instilled in them a spirit of play and creativity. When the Saiki's child is introduced into Ryouta's house, it kickstarts a personal transformation in Ryouta that leaves him questioning everything he thought he knew and believed in.
I still haven't managed to see Shoplifters, but I thoroughly enjoyed Like Father, which balances out its sentimentality with a realism that prevents it from becoming maudlin. Check it out on Amazon.com today!