Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nobody Knows

Nobody Knows (誰も知らない; Dare mo shiranai)
Hirokazu Koreeda, 2004

I watched Nobody Knows yesterday afternoon, a film inspired by true events that occurred in 1988. I'm not going to discuss the plot other than it centres upon the lives of a mother and her family of four children, following their private and personal struggles over the course of a year. Every once in a while, a film comes along that lingers in my mind long after I've seen it. It's also true with certain books, artworks, pieces of music, etc. that can have the same effect. I'm never sure the reason why, which at times is puzzling, but I love the sense of being affected in that way. Nobody Knows is one such film

If I was to describe this film in two words, they would have to be quiet and understated. It is the antithesis of familiar Hollywood fare with its sparse and essential dialogue, limited background music and a focus on capturing the slightest details of the film's environment. Expressions of the characters' feelings are reflected through their situation rather than overblown physical drama or emotions. This creates a tone where the film simply portrays their 'being' throughout the proceedings of what unfolds. Not only that, the smallest actions, possessions and day-to-day activities stand testament to support an understanding and empathy with each character and the story

In retrospect, there are many similarities between Nobody Knows and the classic anime Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka). Aside from both films focusing upon the lives of siblings in the face of adversity, the overwhelming comparison is in their poignant depiction of humanity, care and survival. In a clear reference to the anime, the youngest sibling Yuki has a fondness for Apollo Choco candy, a box of which she cherishes and makes last, long after her brother Akira had imagined or expected

Yûya Yagira plays Akira, the eldest of the four children, and remains the lynchpin of the family. He carries the unfolding story with stoicism and stability. Yagira's performance of Akira is outstanding, and as such he won the best actor prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. In keeping with the film, his portrayal reveals a calm restraint and subtlety, reflecting a character having to deal with responsibility beyond his years

For further information on the film, check out IMDb or the official English or Japanese sites


  1. This film is lovely, one of my favorites. Have you seen STILL WALKING by the same director? It's another understated gem that'll stay with you for a long time. It seems like death is present in all his work.

  2. I've not yet seen Still Walking but I came across it after seeing Nobody Knows. I'll definitely be giving it watch ^_^