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Critic's pick: 'Like Father, Like Son' hangs hearts in the balance

"Like Father, Like Son" is a deceptively simple title for a film of considerable emotional complexity. Its children-switched-at-birth story sounds schematic, but what we see on screen is both meaningful and moving.

Those familiar with the work of writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda will not be surprised. One of Japan's most respected filmmakers (his earlier films include "After Life" and "Still Walking"), he brings a gentleness and delicacy of touch to his work as well as an exceptional gift for working with children. Stories like this one, of family members who discover the 6-year-old son they've been raising is not their own, would run the risk of being overdone in other hands but not in his.

Powered by Kore-eda's innate restraint and natural empathy, "Like Father, Like Son" takes these characters to places they never expected to be. It's unnerving for them, of course, but watching so many hearts hanging in the balance is a rare privilege for us.

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