Tuesday, August 09, 2005


There are films which are made to help adults try to visualize the world of a child and let them attempt for to regain (for a time) a fragment of lost innocence. This is one of those films.

Nobody Knows follows the lives of four children who manage (for a time) to get along by themselves in the cocoon of an apartment with only each other. Their single mother is out trying to woo a husband to better look after both them and her. She doesn't have the means to properly support them, and she does not send them to school - likely because of this. She sneaks three of the children into the appartment likely because it is too tiny for five people to live (the washing machine is on the balcony), and the land-lords wouldn't allow it. She disappears for weeks at a time, supposedly working and wooing, but more likely being boozed up. The children (12, 9, 7 and 5 years old, I'm guessing) somehow behave themselves, do the dishes, cook the meals and the oldest, Akira, pays the bills and does the grocery shopping.

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda focuses on the little things in extreme close up, to give the impression of seeing the world as someone small. A dangling hand, nail-polish spilled on the floor, a seed in a pot of dirt they are wonderous, and occasionally portentious. The few melodies in the film consist of only a simple collections of notes. The lighting is natural. The pace relaxed and care-free. It is an evocative way to make a film as tragic as this one, and very, very effective.

At some point, there is realization that the mother is not coming back for her own children. This doesn't prevent the children from behaving in a wistful and innocent manner, they have managed like this for most of thier lives. They continue, with Akira shouldering most of the adult responsibility, but the film still allows him to have moments as a 12 year old.

This is as close of a film to ever reach François Truffaut's The Four Hundred Blows. Like that film, scenes and action are familar to the real lives of people but also manages to crush clichéd and pat storytelling. The result is something both beautiful and haunting. You will not walk away from this film unchanged.

Come out and try a computer-less KBT. This film will be running off my DVD player onto the screen. There will be no trailers, and only stereo sound, but that is entirely fitting for this minimalist masterpiece. Drinks at 8pm, showtime at 8:30.


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