Nobody Knows (2004)


Nobody Knows (2004)
(誰も知らない Dare Mo Shiranai)

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Produced by Hirokazu Koreeda
Written by Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring Yûya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura,Hiei Kimura
Music by
Running Time: 141 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93 %
IMDB Rating: 8/10
Chocoholic Rating: 8.2 chocolates

What makes someone a parent? Is it the fact that one is able to produce an offspring or is it something more than that? Nobody Knows (2004) try to explore the answer to that question and at the same time tries to show the stark reality of the effects of child abandonment in society and how it greatly takes away a big part of a child's life. 

Based on a real life incident that happened in Japan, Nobody Knows is a story of the survival of four children after their irresponsible mother abandoned them. They are left to live on their own with the little amount of money that their mother left as she runs off and marry another guy. 

Picture not mine. Click here for the original source. 
It starts when a mother and son (12 years old) moves into a new apartment with their bulky baggage. As the door closes, two children pops out of the huge luggage while another one is rendezvoused  at the train station and is stealthily sneaked in by her big brother. The mother then tells her children that they are not allowed to go out of the room and play nor go to school. She goes off after a few day leaving the eldest son, Akira,  in charge with 50,000 yen which he is supposed to budget for the rest of the days until she is back. When cash was running out, Akira tries to ask for help from the fathers of his sibling but the attempt was futile. He was able to get 5000 yen from them and that's it. Fortunately, their mother comes back bringing presents for them. She leaves the next day never to return again, leaving the four children on their own devices. 

It does not give you a resolution. It is merely a recounting of an unfortunate incident that befell four kids who are too unlucky to be born to useless parents who think that parenthood is nothing but a childish game they can leave anytime they want to. 

Picture not mine.
Click here for the original source. 
It surprises me that despite the movie's haunting theme and plot, I was numb after watching it. Usually, I would cry my heart out because of how cruel the world is to these kids but I guess it was the intention of the director to distance the viewer from the emotions, make it as stoic as possible, because the alternate option will absolutely be heart-crushing that one cannot help but question the morals of society and be jaded for the rest of his/her life. The scarier fact about it was that it was based on a real life story so if you step over the boundaries and attached yourself to the characters, you will feel a burst of emotions inside you: depression from the injustice of the situation, anger towards the irresponsible parents who had the  nerve to forsake their children and despair from what we have let our society become. 

Koreeda's brilliance lies on the fact that he was able to show the story in a subtle documentary-like story-telling that one will almost believe that these children are real, that their struggles are real and you cannot do anything but hold on to your seat and watch helplessly as the story unfolds. Yuya Yagira's portrayal of a 12-year old boy who tries to provide for his siblings while also struggling to fight for a chance to hold on to a childhood that was too early to be taken away from him was unnaturally superb. It was as if Yagira did not exist and what we can see on the screen is Akira Fukushima, the abandoned boy who only wants to have a normal life but left with no choice. He makes us forget about reality, sucks as in and brings us to this parallel universe where we are as powerless as he is. 

This movie is not for people who can't stand the lengthy and slow pace that usually characterize Japanese films. It is slow and dragging, what with the 141 minutes of screen time where no action happens aside from conversations between the kids  and multiple close-up shots of particular scenes to accentuate the harrowing situation that the children are in.  But no matter how slow-moving or simplistic the movie is, it is never boring because each scene pulls you in to the characters' chaotic world and it rewards you with such severe humanism as you have never seen before. 

The musical score adds up to the pulchritude of the film as it underlines poignant scenes in the movie such as Akira's and Saki's walk from the Haneda Airport after burying Yuri, Akira's frustration when he runs out of coins on the telephone booth without being able to talk to the mother that abandoned them, etc. 

It is a good movie to watch if you are looking for something unconventional that will slap irresponsible parents out there with striking cold reality of the effects of child abuse. It earns my respect for Japanese films and it surely is a part of my highly recommended list. 

Here is a good movie review if you want one. 200 Days of Solitude

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