A powerful yet ultimately slow drama, Hirokazu Koreeda's "Nobody Knows" ("Dare mo shiranai") is a Japanese film about what four children would do to stay together even if they were abandoned by everyone they love.
Akira (Yûya Yagira) is a 12-year old boy who is mature beyond his years, but he is put to the test when his mother abandons him and his brother and sisters in their apartment one day with no sign of returning. Fearing that the four siblings will be split apart if anyone finds out, Akira starts to handle the money left behind, which he knows will only last for so long. Situations become more dire as they have to continue to eliminate the things they took for granted, and slowly their electricity and water is switched off, with their chance for reasonable meals and sanitary conditions getting slimmer and slimmer.
"Nobody Knows" is a touching film with great direction, superb acting and a shocking yet subtle storyline. An easy candidate for a foreign Oscar nomination this year, this is one of the finest films to come out this year.
That being said, at 2 hours and 19 minutes the film does seem immensely long at times. Koreeda's direction is well-played and manages to encapsulate the isolation of his four child subjects, but the price of this is several long and drawn-out sequences where very little happens. Individually all these scenes are great, but put together into one movie pacing becomes an issue.
"Nobody Knows" is a well done drama that fans of foreign language pictures should see, but its slowness in parts took away from what could have been something greater.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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