Inspired by an infamous true story that made headlines in Japan in 1988, this tough yet tender film from writer-director Kore-eda Hirokazu (the acclaimed After Life and Maborosi) follows the lives of four children left to fend for themselves by their wayward mother.
Having smuggled her family into a new apartment under the landlord's nose, Keiko (played by Japanese TV star You) puts her 12-year-old son Akira (Yagira Yuya) in charge of the youngsters and - after a brief period of relative family harmony - disappears. Akira manages as best he can, but limited means and the cramped confines of the apartment force this unorthodox family unit to re-shape their narrow existence to suit their physical and emotional needs.
Thanks to the engaging performances by a cast of non-professional child actors and Kore-eda's natural style (including structuring the film by season), Nobody Knows effectively couples documentary realism with a lightly poetic, child's-eye view of the world. Steering clear of sentimentality, the film gathers an impressive and unstoppable emotional momentum.
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