Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nobody Knows (Japan 2005)

Nobody Knows (Dare mo Shiranai) is the touching, heart-wrenching story of four kids abandoned by their mother and left to fend for themselves. It stars You as Keiko, the children's mother; Yuya Yagira as Akira; Ayu Kitaura as Kyoko; Hiei Kimura as Shigeru; Momoko Shimizu as Yuki; and Hanae Kan as Saki. The movie is based on a true story.

Akira, 12, is the oldest of four children and he's not only the man of the house, but really the only "adult". He has to look after his younger siblings, do as well as take care of the cooking and shopping while their mother is coming and going as she pleases. Akira eventually works up the nerve to tell his mother Keiko how selfish he thinks she is and how her children aren't a priority in her life like they should be. As it turns out, all four siblings have different fathers, and Keiko once again feels as if she's falling in love with another man. She believes this guy is the one and even tells Akira that she might actually get married this time. The only problem, is that she hasn't told her boyfriend about her four children. Even the landlord of the apartment complex doesn't know that she has children other than Akira because she hid her two youngest, Shigeru and Yuki, when she moved in. Akira's has to pick up his other sister Kyoko from the train station at night so she can be sneaked into the apartment and they all have to be as quiet as possible to keep from being discovered. Except for Akira, the children aren't allowed to go outside, not even on the balcony. It's so bad that they aren't even allowed to attend school. Not long after they've moved in, Akira wakes up to find his mother has left him an envelope of money and a note saying that she has to leave for awhile and she wants him to take care of his siblings. Akira now has more responsibility than ever. making sure the bills are getting paid and him and his brothers and sisters have enough food to eat. After weeks without their mother, the money begins to run out prompting Akira to look for his mom's ex-boyfriends looking for help. Keiko eventually comes back bearing gifts for the children, but her stay is short-lived and she doesn't return a second time. As things worsen for the children in the apartment, they're forced to go to the park in order to get water so they can clean themselves and do laundry. There they meet Saki, a schoolgirl outcast that does what she can to help them get money. Akira wants nothing more than to just be a normal kid, and when he gets more opportunities to do so, he neglects his responsibilities to his family with serious consequences.

I was very impressed with Yagira as Akira as well as Kitaura as Kyoko. I thought both of them were excellent at portraying these complex children that had to be so mature and responsible while also expressing their displeasure and anger towards their mother as kids would do. You and Kan in their respective supporting roles also did a wonderful job, and the two youngest kids, Hiei Kimura and Momoko Shimizu, couldn't have been any cuter. At over 2 hours and 17 minutes, Nobody Knows did feel a bit long at times, however, it did keep my interest throughout the majority of the feel and never once lacked in emotion. (TheIceQueen)

Buy Nobody Knows on DVD at YESASIA!

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