Viennale ’13: Like Father, Like Son

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Do you know that feeling when everything is happening at once? I mean, during the Viennale Film Festival. This year I had the presentation of Runtastic Story Running, and now I caught a nasty cold. But somehow I managed to watch three movies, so here is the first review.

I was really looking forward to LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (SOCHITE CHICHI NI NARU) by Koreeda Hirokazu. My relationship with the Asian movies I have seen so far is not always the best, but I loved Koreeda’s movie NOBODY KNOWS.

I am often fascinated by the simple premise of Koreeda’s stories. With NOBODY KNOWS it is only one sentence: A mother leaves her four kids behind, only leaving a letter and some money on the kitchen table. The whole story is then told only from the perspective of the eldest 12 year old brother. There are few movies that moves me so much by their simplicity as that one.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON has a likewise simple topic: Two married couples realize that their sons were switched at birth. Both come from very different social backgrounds, and both have the same question: What to do now?

Like father, like son.

Unfortunately the simplicity of the story did not really convince me this time. I found the storytelling a bit banal and a bit redundant. Maybe one reason was the plot: Normally you would do a melodramatic tv movie or a over the top comedy with this story material.

But this was exactly the reason why I was interested how Koreeda tackles the topic. I was expecting a sensitive and detailed observation, but to my mind it was a bit blunt and thus too obvious:
On one side you have the rich family with a father projecting his own ambitions onto his son, who might have difficulties to find his own personality. On the other hand you have the poor, but happy family, who is dealing with the son in a much more loving, personal way. I felt that I had seen this setup several times already, and I found it too predictable.

But as always when the content of a movie does not really touch me, my brain finds other things to do. Here it was the editing and the mis en scene which I thought were really well done. I notices especially the movements of and in front of the camera, which told their own stories without words. But altogether my start at the Viennale this year was rather so-so.

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