Hirokazu Koreeda on the switched-at-birth drama ‘Like Father, Like Son’

Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda's latest is the drama "Like Father, Like Son." Credit: Getty Images
Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda’s latest is the drama “Like Father, Like Son.”
Credit: Getty Images

In addition to films about death (“After Life”) and families (“Still Walking”), the Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda has made several films about children. “Nobody Knows” looks at a group of kids who spent months on their own after being abandoned by their mother; “I Wish” concerns a boy trying to reconnect with his brother after his parents split up. His latest, “Like Father, Like Son,” examines a true case that occurred four decades ago in Japan, where many kids were switched at birth, a fact discovered much later. In every case, the child was put in the care of their blood parents. But in Koreeda’s film, both parents involved in a similar situation don’t know what to do: surrender the boy they’ve raised for years as their own or continue raising a child who’s not theirs.

You’ve said this film is inspired by personal experiences, but not that you had a child switched at birth.

I work on films every day. When I made “I Wish,” my daughter was three years old. I was away from home for about a month and a half. When I came home we were both a little bit nervous to be around eachother. We weren’t very close. The next morning when I was leaving the house, she said, “Come back and visit us!” I was shocked. It made me realize she doesn’t see me as someone who lives with her. I realized I needed to rectify this. It also made me realize that, even though we have a blood relationship, it’s important to spend time with her.

Did bits of your life wind up in the film?

There’s a part where he notices his son has taken pictures of him on his camera without him noticing. That’s based on my own experiences. When I was at work one day, looking at my phone, I noticed a couple pictures of me sleeping. It was shocking to me. There’s a different version of me [in the photos]. They’re what I represent to her.

Your film seems to suggest that, as opposed to 40 years ago, the decision on what to do with this kind of situation isn’t so clear-cut.

I think people might prioritize the time they spent with a child as opposed to favoring the blood relationship. That could be a possibility. But I still think the blood line would be seen as more important. We don’t have a very active adoption system, which may be a reason for that. The main character here prioritizes blood — but he also couldn’t give up the thought of the time he had spent with the son he raised.

What is your approach in terms of writing? Do your films tend to be much different from the script?

I make discoveries all over the course of production. I’d say my initial script is 50 percent of what it’s going to be. When I’m doing the casting it changes, especially with children. Based on my communication with them, I change some of the words in the script. I’ll use their vocabulary and put it into their lines. Until we wrap, I’m making changes. A film is a living thing.

“Like Father, Like Son” feels slightly different from your other films. It’s more story-bound, where the others sometimes moved around more freely.

My process since “Nobody Knows” has been the same, which is that I’ll change things while filming. But I think you’re right: The story here is my most composed and more tightly put together. There’s almost a propulsive force moving the story along. If there was a scene that didn’t necessarily have an involvement in the story, I took it out. Only those that were related to the story were kept in.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Local

Report: Rich New Yorkers don't move from NYC…

An Independent Budget Office analysis found that the wealthiest residents don't move out of the city any more or less than other New Yorkers.

National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Food truck with a mission hires at-risk New…

A group branding itself as food trucks for social justice specifically hires and trains young men and women with troubled pasts.

Movies

Review: Liking Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'…

Woody Allen's latest, "Magic in the Moonlight," concerns a magician (Colin Firth) trying to debunk an alleged psychic (Emma Stone).

Movies

Piano from 'Casablanca' up for sale at auction

An iconic piano featured in Rick's Cafe Americain in the 1942 Hollywood classic "Casablanca" is expected to be the highlight of a sale of film…

Music

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks more accessible than Animal…

Believe it or not, Avey Tare — the man in the mustachioed mask pictured here in the pool of blood — may have made the poppiest music of his career.

Movies

Interview: Michael Douglas likes playing jerks, like in…

"And So It Goes" star Michael Douglas talks about being shocked that he never does period movies and opens up about Edgar Wright leaving "Ant-Man."

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…

Tech

Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.

Home

Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.