Starring: YAGIRA Yuuya, KITAURA Ayu, KIMURA
Hiei, SHIMIZU Momoko, KAN Hanae You
RunTime: 2 hrs 30 mins
Released By: Lighthouse Pictures
Date: 23 December 2004 (Exclusively at Cathay Cinplex
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
after the show, as I chatted with my friend about Nobody Knows,
I soon realized the gems that I had missed while watching
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.
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.
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.
Review by Richard Lim Jr