DRAMA; 2hr 1min (Japanese with subtitles)
STARRING: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Riri Furanki
Family ties: Fukuyama (left) and Ninomiya
When Tokyo architect Ryota Nonomiya (Fukuyama) learns from his wife, Midori (Ono), that authorities from the hospital in which she gave birth to their six-year-old son have requested a meeting, his response is typical. “I hope it’s nothing messy,” he says. Ryota, who views kindness as a weakness, has a rigid respect for parameters. Now, he and his stunned wife face the worst kind of chaos: a switch at birth means that moppety Keita (Keita Ninomiya) is not their biological son.
The equally stupefied parents (Maki and Furanki) who have been raising the Nonomiyas’ child are at the opposite end of a sliding financial scale and with far looser and freer ideas, which complicates the emotional landscape still further. Social mores aside, however, the core dilemma is what is to be done about the two, misplaced boys. Writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody Knows) doesn’t sensationalise or judge. His reflective cadence and swirling undercurrents are quintessentially Japanese, yet the vexed questions of blood ties and familial love in all its permutations cross every border.