There are very few films I have seen that had the power to affect me asdeeply as Nobody Knows. As highly as I recommend it, I must alsoforewarn, that this film has power, some very serious power. To callHirokazu Koreeda's Nobody Knows anything less than a masterpiece wouldbe an insult to the story it tells. The craftsmanship we witness here,from the masterful direction to the outstanding performances that thechildren were able to commit to, are all something of incredibleproportions.
Nobody Knows, which is a true story, tells of four siblings, ages 5-12,from different fathers, who live in a small apartment in Tokyo. Atfirst, they live in the apartment with their childish Mother who ishardly ever home. With the exception of the oldest, Akira, the mothersnuck the children in to keep the rent lower and prohibits them fromever leaving the apartment, even the veranda, for fear of them beingseen. The children do not go to school. As they look after each other,all they do is patiently and affectionately wait for their mother tocome home.
As the story progresses, the children wake up one morning to some moneyon the kitchen table with a note from their mother saying that she'llbe home in a month. As Akira steps up and takes charge of theapartment, the bills, and his siblings, the children still hold hopethat mother will be home soon. And then, Nobody Knows hits you like atruck and goes right through you. Complete Abandonment. The smilesdiminish and the childish affection for a mother that will never returnis gone. Gone to play mother to another family, it is now entirely upto Akira, with money running out.
Koreeda's direction of the children is exceptional, as if the film wasshot entirely candid. The camera-work is sincere, as if we were one ofthe children stuck in that apartment. There are no gimmicks here, noslide of hand, or post-production miracles. Nobody Knows is raw, andthrives in Koreeda's ability to capture the distinct personalities ofall four siblings, their hopes, and those secretive moments whereKoreeda directs the children not for the stories sake, but for the sakeof the children being children.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Nobody Knows is the performancesof the four children. All four children, who conjured phenomenalperformances, were played by Japanese youths with no film backgrounds.After you see the film, it is likely that Koreeda preferred it thisway, tapping into the honesty and energy that such youth had to offer.Their performances are so sincere and beautiful that on severaloccasions the tears will start to fall, the goose bumps will rise, andyour heart will undoubtedly cry out to rescue these children, to grabthem in your arms and set them free.
Without giving too much away, one of the most touching scenes to me, ison Yuki's birthday, the only thing she wants is to be able to gooutside for a walk with her big brother Akira. So when the night comes,she puts on her little bear slippers, an ear to ear smile on her face,and with her hand in her brothers hand, they set her heart free for ifnot only a night.
Nobody Knows is a film that I will never let go of. This film impactedme so much and I found it so absolutely remarkable, that it hasn't leftmy mind since it's viewing. I almost feel that recommending this filmjust isn't enough, and all I can say is that I hope everyone gets thechance to enjoy this film for all that it is worth. As sure as it is toinvoke emotion, it is as sure to please as a piece of cinema.