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film review

Two contemporary Japanese families discover their six-year-old sons were switched at birth in this latest drama from Japanese director Kore-Eda. In contrast with his previous poignant domestic dramas (After Life, Nobody Knows, I Wish), this entry feels somewhat lightweight and off-key, caught between a meditation on parenthood and a satire of yuppie ambitions. Uptight developer Nonomiya Ryota (pop star Masaharu Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) live in a Tokyo high-rise and have groomed their distinctly ordinary son, Keita, to get into an elite private school. When the hospital calls to explain a delivery-room mix-up, the Ryotas travel to the country to meet Keita's biological parents, an easy-going couple who run a village shop, and their own biological child. Typical of Kore-Eda, the focus is on a progression of small, well-calibrated incidents, such as Ryota's visit with his elderly father, and his struggles with emotional baggage while trying to make a decision about his son's future.

At VIFF: Oct. 5, 1 p.m., Playhouse; Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m., Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts

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