Fatherhood — in its practical, emotional, cultural and biological aspects — is the focus of this gentle drama from Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda (Nobody Knows, I Wish). Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a successful architect who applies his commitment to hard work to both his consuming job and to the development of his 6-year-old son; we meet the family when the bright, happy child is applying for a prestigious elementary school. Like father, like son, indeed.
Then Ryota discovers the hospital mixed up two babies, and the boy he's raised is not his own. His biological son has been raised by another family, one less prosperous but more warm and lively. Now both sets of parents must decide which son is truly theirs, as well as balance out the differences between the two families in a series of co-parenting schemes. It's a potentially wrenching topic that is beautifully handled here, with quiet performances and small moments that are as heartwarming as heartbreaking.