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Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai) (2004)

  Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda
Written by: Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring: Hanae Kan, Hiei Kimura, Ayu Kitaura, Momoko Shimizu, Yûya Yagira, You
Links: Nobody Knows on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Heartbreaking" - a review by pearly

Nobody Knows is a slow-moving drama which builds and builds to an emotional end. Set in Tokyo, it's about a young family who move to a new flat, but only reveal the eldest son to the landlord, as they're afraid they won't be allowed to live there otherwise. Mother Keiko (You) is a flighty young thing who leaves her four children to fend for themselves for long periods of time, and eventually abandons them.

The eldest child, Akira (Yûya Yagira), is 12, and he is given money and the responsibility of looking after his siblings. He is the only one allowed out of the flat. Second-eldest is Kyoko (Ayu Kitaura), a quiet young girl who dreams of playing the piano. And then there are the young ones, Shigeru (Hiei Kimura), a rowdy little scamp who has trouble keeping quiet, and Yuki (Momoko Shimizu), the cutest little thing you've ever seen.

The film traces the kid's phases whilst living without their mother, and we see how, over time, Akira goes from a boy who is responsible beyond his years, and the others obey all the rules their mother has laid out for them, and through to living for the moment, and, unsurprisingly, just being kids.

Nobody Knows is, without wanting to sound too corny, quite an emotional journey. The pace of the film allows you to settle in with the characters, and to react to each incident in their lives in some detail before moving on to the next thing. You begin by being gobsmacked at the immense selfishness of the mother, and then marvelling at the resilience of the kids, particularly Akira, and on it goes from there. If anything, the middle section was a little too slow and repetitive, it would probably have benefitted from having 15 to 30 minutes' worth of footage edited out, however, this analysis may have something to do with the fact that I had a very sore knee when I was watching it, and I couldn't get comfy in my seat.

Never work with animals or children, right? Well, for the most part, this film has only children on screen. It is somewhat more difficult to judge performances of actors speaking in a foreign language to the one which you speak, but this film was laid-back enough that I was able to study the acting talents of the main four children, and all were quite brilliant. In some respects, you could see that there were bits where they were just being natural, and this was being filmed (rather than them actually "acting"), but the bits where they had lines to say etc. were all done with a high degree of believability that was probably aided by the other natural parts, and when it was all put together, it made for a really cohesive whole. You couldn't help but feel for, and fall in love with these kids.

Nobody Knows certainly isn't a feelgood flick, but it kept my interest throughout, and it certainly had a lot of feeling. To some extent, it came along at a good time for me, having only recently come back from my first trip to Japan, it contained reminders of the place that put a smile on my face. But this film is certainly more than that. Bring your tissues.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 30 Jul 2004

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Reader comments

  1. touching enough to feel bad for the childrens...very beautifully pictured one

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from mota on Sat 06 Oct 2007 07:05 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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