MVFF36: Like Father, Like Son by Hirozaku Koreeda

Soshite Chichi ni Naru, dir. Hirozaku Kore-eda, 2013.

Soshite Chichi ni Naru, dir. Hirozaku Kore-eda, 2013.

It was recently announced that the American film company DreamWorks Studios bought the remake rights to Hirozaku Kore-eda’s latest (and well-received) film. This is not a surprising move, since Mr. Spielberg (who was on this year’s Cannes Film Festival jury, which awarded the Jury Prize to the film) has a great ear for what makes a good narrative and a mind for what will make good business. It is not hard, however, to feel that this film has fallen into the wrong remake hands, even one as capable as Mr. Spielberg’s team. For this movie is everything a typical Hollywood studio production is not: it is understated, minimally-scored, brave, rigorous, and furthermore, so much about the director’s vision and individual creativity. Under the studio system, there is no doubt that this film will lose its deeply personal feeling and melancholy (but not sentimental) tone; I have no doubt that the remake, even with the best intentions, will valiantly tug at the heartstrings, deafen us with a string-filled score, and annoy us with close-ups of cute children. It my take a village to make a film, but it takes a studio to make an obvious and pedestrian one.

With all that, however, I do hope many people will see this stunning, mesmerizing, and complete film. Mr. Kore-eda, as always, displays his sure touch for the real drama of life, which is played out quietly and patiently in the small rooms of domesticity, and to the (deceptively) simple strains of a Bach variation.

This film is part of Mill Valley Film Festival’s 3 Gen Japan Focus. It has won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, was nominated for Best Film at the London Film Festival, and won the Rogers People’s Choice Award at the Vancouver Film Festival.

Soshite Chichi ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son), dir. Hirozaku Kore-eda, 2013. 120 min. Amuse, et al. In Japanese.

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