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Nobody Knows

September 6, 2010

Nobody Knows (2004)
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Actors: Yagira Yuya, Kitaura Ayu, Kimura Hiei

280px-Dare_mo_shiranai.png (280×166)

Synopsis: A mother leaves her young children to fend for themselves in Tokyo….

Review: The potentially sensationalist dialectic at the heart of Nobody Knows – the mother behaving as immaturely as any of the kids, the subjugation of the childhood of the eldest sibling, Akira – is sensitively and perceptively navigated by Koreeda. This comes down to Koreeda’s own bravura direction in opting for a spare, plaintive aesthetic using impeccable digital photography and acute naturalised sound. This contemplative, yet realist, framework makes it possible to conceive of how such a bizarre situation could manifest in a busy and unforgiving urban environment.

Just once or twice, the pensive nature of the film allows moments of poignancy to slip into outright sentimentality with Koreeda inevitably seeking to accentuate the innocence of the children (the youngest girl in particular) with shots of forlorn teddy bears and playthings dropped in the outside world from which they are cut adrift. The dark climax is also, in my opinion, a marginal theoretic error, as Koreeda uses prettified arthouse framing to depict the family unit’s response to tragedy. Those minor quibbles aside though, for a film with a very challenging dramatic remit, the stringency of Koreeda’s direction is to be applauded, and his next step is one to await with relish. (August 2008)

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