Thursday, 17 March 2011

Nobody Knows (誰も知らない) Review

Nobody Knows (誰も知らない)

Japanese cinema has become infamous for its portrayal of samurai, ‘anime’,psychological horrors and over-the-top gory spectacles. However, ‘Drama’ has been a genre that Japan has not remained gain global recognition. Tokyo Story is one pillar of Japanese drama cinema that remains present in many ‘Top 100’ lists of foreign films, however that was back in 1953. Departures in 2008, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and it thoroughly deserved its attention, showing that modern Japanese drama could be globally respected. Thus, I bring you Nobody Knows.
Released back in 2004, Nobody Knows is an engrossing human drama that is helped by some truly remarkable child performances. The film is based on the infamous true story that hit the Japanese headlines back in 1988, known as the ‘Sugamo child abandonment case’. Nobody Knows doesn’t follow the exact facts and events of that unfortunate incident, but remains a tragic tale told in an almost documentary style of film-making. The story follows four children and their single mother, Keiko, who have recently moved to a small apartment. The children have different fathers, don’t have any schooling and are restricted to the confinements of their home. Yet they live in a world of simplicity and comfort with their mother. However, this is turned upside down when she finds a new boyfriend. She subsequently leaves the children, gives some money and gives all the responsibility to the eldest son aged 12, Akira (Yagira Yuya). The children are thrust into the world of adulthood, in which they struggle to pay the bills and find sustenance. While the story is one of tragedy, the film realistically portrays the events though the eyes of the children. We experience their simplistic joy over the coming of spring, and planting flowers. However, we also see their growing frustration and confusion to why their mother left them. 
The acting is simple fantastic. It is truly inspirational that such young actors could carry out such mesmerising performances. Yagira Yuya, who plays Akira, was named ‘Best Actor’ in the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. His performance successfully shows his character’s personality change over time. From the start, he is the ‘father’ figure to the family, and acts as the leader. Yet when his mother disappears, his strong determination crumbles under the growing responsibility placed upon him. He tries to support the family, but yearns for a true childhood that he has failed to experience. The other child actors/actresses are similarly fantastic and create an sense of innocence to the film.  The two young children, Shigeru (Kimura Hiei) and Yuki (Shimuzu Momoko), are full of energy and spirit, but fail to fully understand and recognise the surrounding situation and happenings. We truly care about the characters through their turmoil and dire situation.
Nobody Knows is a fantastic example of modern Japanese drama cinema at its best. It’s true human drama that takes the audience through a voyage of emotions from youthful perspectives. Director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s ability to balance the various emotions given off by the performances and the story, is simple amazing. We experience our share of depressing events but are left with an ending that is heart-warming and somber. Simplistic and Pure. 

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1 comment:

  1. Kore-eda is like the opposite of Tetsuya Nakashima, yet I love them both xD

    Nobody Knows is such a heartbreaking experience. Kore-eda's amazing with the silences he uses on film. I really don't know how he does it - I just keep imagining people saying "we need to put a music queue here because the characters are just contemplating each other".