“Nobody Knows,” a 2004 independent Japanese film, is a heart-wrenching story (based on a real event) about child abandonment.
This film is best seen without any knowledge about it beforehand so reviewing this movie is almost an injustice that somewhat spoils the film.
However, it is necessary, as a beautiful film like this deserves to be experienced.
“Nobody Knows” has a grimy, grainy visual aesthetic throughout the entire film that serves to contrast with the quiet, orderly Japanese locations featured in this film, which effectively enhances the feelings of abandonment, dread and solitude even more.
The film begins with 12-year-old Akira moving into a new apartment with his mom, Keiko.
It all begins innocuous enough, until Akira and his mom hurriedly bring their surprisingly heavy suitcases inside from the moving truck and open them.
Inside are Akira’s half-siblings, Shigeru, the youngest son, who is about 7, and Yuki, a 5-year-old sister. Later, Ayu, 11, comes by train bringing the total number of people crammed into a small apartment to five —four kids and a mom.
At dinner, the mother reiterates the rules. No loud voices or screaming and most of all — no going outside.
The mother, Keiko, is implied to be a hostess, which is almost equivalent to a stripper.
In charge during her long absences is Akira, the only one permitted outside.
Eventually Keiko stops coming home entirely, leaving Akira to take care of his three half-siblings.
This immense pressure is shown in Akira’s actions. At one point he wastes his money on an expensive game console.
Eventually, the power gets cut. Then, the water. There are even more tragedies but revealing them will ruin the weight of the moments.
“Nobody Knows” is not another [insert genre] Hollywood movie.
This is a hauntingly tragic film that will stay with you as it has stayed with me for the past eight years.
I hope after watching this, viewers will understand the plight of the people that nobody knows.