Genre: Drama
Kore-eda Hirokazu
Starring: YAGIRA Yuuya, KITAURA Ayu, KIMURA Hiei, SHIMIZU Momoko, KAN Hanae You
RunTime: 2 hrs 30 mins
Released By: Lighthouse Pictures
Rating: PG

Release Date: 23 December 2004 (Exclusively at Cathay Cinplex Orchard)

Synopsis :

Four siblings live happily with their mother in a small apartment in Tokyo. The children all have different fathers. They have never been to school. The very existence of three of them has been hidden from the landlord. One day, the mother leaves behind a little money and a note, asking her 12-year-old boy to look after the others. And so begins the children’s odyssey, a journey nobody knows.

Though engulfed by the cruel fate of abandonment, the four children do their best to survive in their own little word, devising and following their own set of rules. When they are forced to engage with the world outside their cocooned universe, the fragile balance that has sustained them collapses. Their innocent longing for their mother, their wart fascination toward the outside world, their anxiety over their increasingly desperate situation, their inarticulate cries, their kindness to each other, their determination to survive on wits and courage…

Movie Review:

It wasn’t an easy movie for me to review. First of all, I found it to be too mundane and too long a movie whilst watching it. After two hours of viewing, I found myself looking at my watch and wondering where this movie is heading.

Actually if you had read the synopsis and facts about the film above, you would pretty much know what is going to happen in this movie. So instead of hoping for more in the storyline, I shifted my focus to the actors and characters in the movie, hoping for any saving grace since the actor, Yuuya Yagira at age 14, won the best actor at Cannes over Tony Leung.

However there wasn’t really much acting involved with the kids, just the cutesy jovial bunch of children having their own little adventure in a sad abandoned surrounding. Yet strangely, there wasn’t any emotional outburst by any of the kids. Even the frustration faced by the eldest kid, Yuuya Yagira, was suppressed to the minimum.

But after the show, as I chatted with my friend about Nobody Knows, I soon realized the gems that I had missed while watching it.

Yes, the film is very simple but yet very subtly, the film slowly creeps up on you with the effective reflection of the everyday world we live in: the lack of awareness for anyone out of our social lives. The children were living in a crowded apartment block yet no one realized their existence, much less the fact that one of them had met with a tragic accident.

After talking to my friend, instead of seeing only the lack of acting by the kids, I have grown to realize that actually the director, Kore-eda Hirokazu, had brought out what was required from the children as naturally as possible. The kids are an endearing bunch and they will definitely melt most people’s heart with their simple mannerisms, wants and dreams.

My initial view of the film could have been driven from my “cynical” grown up point of views. What I could not accept was that how the kids could still be smiling when there were no money left and their mother had left them. I had overlooked the fact that they had always been living this way, hence this shouldn’t make any difference to their lives. If I had watched from the kids’ point of view, the film had succeeded in showing another way of looking at the world.

Movie Rating:

Review by Richard Lim Jr

  Publicity Stills of "Nobody Knows"
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