Facts and Figures
Run time: 141 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 21st October 2004
Box Office USA: $0.5M
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: Bandai Visual Company (JAPAN), Dare mo Shiranai Seisaku Iinkai, Engine Films, c-style
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 86 Rotten: 6
IMDB: 8.1 / 10
Nobody Knows Review
In a similar vein to Steven Soderbergh's "King of the Hill," Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Nobody Knows" tells the story of four Japanese children left to fend for themselves when their mother flits off for a long-distance romance. For anyone with a conscinence, it's an extremely difficult film to watch, but Kore-eda's accomplished artistry makes up for a great deal of emotional discomfort.
His camera focuses on tiny bits of evidence: a broken crayon, a Styrofoam cup used as a planter, or a child lighting a gas stove by herself. Some of this is meant as foreshadowing and some is not -- which adds to the uncertainty of the situation and the constant questions that the children must be asking themselves.
Kore-eda, the director behind the now-classic "After Life," gets wonderfully natural performances from his young cast, and uses the story's limited locations to maximum effect. At first the children follow their mother's orders and stay exclusively inside; she has lied to the landlord and told him about only one of her children. But as their hope dwindles, they become more and more careless and we begin to see more of the outside world.
Kore-eda understands the need for small rewards within such a bleak story, and he gives one to us in the form of the children's first day of fun in the outdoors. In the end, however, it's a film to appreciate and admire, but one that's difficult to adore.