Agonizing family choice in Japanese film at Cannes festival

Sat May 18, 2013 10:00am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

CANNES (Reuters) - A film about baby-switching by Japan's Kore-eda Hirokazu that ponders nature versus nurture premiered at the Cannes film festival on Saturday, joining an Iranian challenger as contenders for the top prize.

"Soshite Chichi Ni Naru" ("Like Father, Like Son") is one of two Japanese films out of the international roster of 20 vying to take home the Palme d'Or prize on May 26 from the world's largest film festival being held on the French Riviera.

Japan has won four times before, most recently in 1997 with Shohei Imamura's "Unagi" ("The Eel"). Its other offering this year is the stunt-filled police thriller "Wara No Tate" ("Shield of Straw") by Takashi Miike.

"Soshite Chichi Ni Naru" stars singer and actor Masaharu Fukuyama as workaholic Ryota who, along with his docile wife Midori, played by Machiko Ono, is grooming his 6-year-old son Keita for success.

Their outwardly picture-perfect family life is shattered one day after the hospital where Keita was born informs them they made a mistake and Keita is not their biological son.

"Why didn't I see it? I'm a mother!" laments Midori after the revelation, which forces the couple into an agonizing decision - whether to keep Keita as their own, or make a swap.

The film finds moments of humor and humanity when Ryota and Midori meet the couple, played by Yoko Maki and Lily Franky, who have brought up their biological son.

Shopkeepers from a different class, they horrify the sensibilities of Ryota, who sees them as bumbling simpletons incapable of rearing his son.   Continued...

(L-R) Cast member Shogen Hwang, director Hirokazu Kore-eda, cast members Masaharu Fukuyama, Keita Ninomiya, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki and Lily Franky pose as they arrive to attend a news conference for the film 'Soshite Chichi Ni Naru' (Like Father, Like Son) at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier