Written and Directed by: HIROKAZU
Starring: YUYA YAGIRA, AYU KITAURA, HIEI KIMURA, MOMOKO SHIMIZU,
Released by: IFC Films
on a true story, this tale of four children
living on their own in Tokyo is no “Party
of Five,” but it’s well crafted,
subtle and moving.
But You Should
By Andrew Bender
The first surprise
of “Nobody Knows” shows up in suitcases. Keiko
(played by You) and her 12-year-old son Akira (Yuuya Yagira)
move into a Tokyo apartment and unpack Akira’s youngest
brother and sister. The middle sister shows up, the family
has a nice dinner, and before we know it Keiko departs
“for a little while” (by which she means something
close to “forever”).
leaves the four kids in an apartment they can’t
afford, with no income and no caregiver. The flat is too
small for a large family, so the kids must stay unseen
and unheard lest they be evicted---even the balcony is
off limits. School is out of the question, and they won’t
go to child services for fear of being split up. As bills
pile up and money runs out, uncooked instant noodles qualify
as a feast, and a flower as an object of enchantment.
“Party of Five” this isn’t.
and director Hirokazu Kore-eda (“After Life”)
shot the film using documentary techniques, where little,
intimate observations like the squeak of sandals are richly
observed and unflinching. The performances are uniformly
strong as well. Yagira, as Akira, won the Best Actor award
at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. He makes a
remarkable transformation during the course of the film,
which was filmed over one year, only partly because he
grew taller and his voice changed.
don’t know words harsh enough to describe the mother
in this story, but by contrast we were completely compelled
by the spirit of the kids looking after each other, solving
problems and even having some fun. “Nobody Knows”
may have elements of tragedy, but it’s somehow also