Since I speak to my son in Japanese most of the time, I’m always looking for more ways to increase my vocabulary in the area of natural phrases that I can use when playing or interacting with him. This is one of the reasons I was eager to watch this film, which my wife found at a Japanese market in Orlando.
This movie is about two families whose sons were swapped at birth at the hospital. I’m not sure about Japanese movies, but in American movies this type of story goes back until at least 1991 (like this movie) and as such it seemed like a pretty generic premise, so I didn’t expect too much from the beginning.
One of the two fathers is played by Fukuyama Masaharu, who is a singer-songwriter, musician, and actor who has appeared in many Japanese movies and TV dramas. I had seen him in the TV series Galileo and liked his acting there, so was looking forward to see how he would play this role. (As a side point, I’ve heard a few songs from one of Fukuyama’s albums and it wasn’t something I’d recommend to anyone)
His acting in this movie wasn’t that different from the other roles I had seen, except for a few emotional scenes which he did a reasonable job at. And the movie’s story lived up to my (lack of expectations), in the sense that there wasn’t any major surprises, though parts of the movie made me think about what it is to be a father, which was probably the point of the movie to begin with.
The place the movie excelled was in the area of exposing me to some Japanese I hadn’t heard before, especially some phrases I might be able to use with my son. Like many movies, due to background noises and lack of clear enunciation the dialog was a bit hard to hear so I turned on the Japanese subtitles. In addition to the language itself, I got to see some slices of what Japanese everyday life is like. Sure it’s fiction but I’m sure much of the elements portrayed parallel those in real life. This sense of everyday-ness (what I like to think of as 生活感) is characterized by a slower paced story with little to no background music. It’s hard to find in dramas but you pretty frequent in movies, at least from those I’ve seen.
In conclusion, if you’re studying Japanese or interested in Japanese culture this is a highly recommended movie, but otherwise I wouldn’t rush out to go buy it.