Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Movie Review: "Nobody Knows" (2004)

Nobody Knows what I'm wearingI have noticed that despite making regular movie reviews, I really dont have anything relevant to say about the movies I write about. Given the fact that I work at a call center ant can't give 100% attention to what I am doing, and given the fact that, sometimes...most of the times I'm just plain lazy. Well, now I intend to deviate from tha trend and will attempt to haul my lazy butt out of the lazy chair and give a substantial review worth reading. The subject...Hirokazu Koreeda's Nobody Knows.

Great Japanese films are a rare. You usually see the campy stuff in Quiapo like the Chambara, futuristic Hentai-inspired biker chick staple displayed in the stalls. Then there are the dramas that rarely get any attention because nobody really talks about them.

I first heard about this film from the KFCC forums. Nobody knows won the critical acclaim of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival jury and audience. The young lead actor Yûya Yagira got the best Actor Award that year too.

The plot outline is simple; "Four children are forced to rely on one another after they are abandoned by their mother", according to IMDB. Akira is an intelligent 12 year old boy with a flamboyant mother who bore four children from different fathers.They had just moved in to a new apartment where small children are not allowed , so the smaller kids are smuggled into the apartment (in a very simple but creative way) and told not to make noise or go out of the house lest they be seen by the landlords. The mother Keiko (played by Japanese pop icon YOU) seems to be engrossed in hooking up with a rich man to relieve her family from their current state of relative poverty, so she frequently goes out on dates with this man, sometimes leaving for days. To sustain the kids (who dont go to school and just stay home to do chores), she entrusts Akira to take care of his siblings and gives him money for groceries and utilities. The kids have different character traits. Kyoko (Ayu Kitaura) the oldest sister is reserved and ambitious. Shigeru (Hiei Kimura) who is a little autistic, is mischevous and tends to break the rules. The cute and adorable Yuki (Momoko Shimizu) just stays in one corner and well, acts cute. One day Keiko leaves her kids for a month, tells her kids that it had to do with work. The kids wait, and wait, and wait.

MRT in the morning: NiiiiiceAkira does his best to stretch the budget and take care of the needs of the younger kids. Usually this would be a kid's dream; to be able to play with our own rules now that the grown ups are away. Akira is tempted at times to just break away from the responsibility (he is after all, just 12), but he soon realizes that there are consequences.

What really got me was he degeneration of the lifestyle the kids start to experience when their mother leaves them to the care of their young older brother. Although you have to give the boy credit. He did do a great job taking care of his siblings. His resourcefulness saved them from going hungry for days. The movie was shot within a period of , I believe, one year. The purpose is to show how the kids grow within the extended period since their mother left them. It is most evident in Akira, who is in the brink of puberty. You can see his stature getting thinner and more teen like and and his hair grow longer as the movie progresses.

Nobody Knows is a refreshing change of pace from the usual fast-paced summer blockbusters. It kind of tells you to stop and feel your surroundings for a while. Japanese filmmakers have a knack for giving a movie atmosphere and time to breathe for you to get immersed. Strangely, it really feels like you're in there with them, experiencing their hunger and feeling the heat due to the loss of power service which we who live in the Philippines, can relate to very well.
Give this movie a chance. You will not be sorry you saw it. There I guess that's enough info, now go get it before I spoil the ending.

Wanted: Perfect Father

Rocketboy's Rating: **** (4 out of 5)


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