Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dare mo shiranai (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2004) aka Nobody Knows

Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2004)
Rating: 9.9

This film utterly blew me away with delicacy. The images are the real substance, rather than the story which follows the lives of four children who have been abandoned by their mother. Their plight unfolds through Kore-eda's calculated film form consisting of the subtle repetition of detailed imagery and elliptical editing. Images are seeded at earlier points in the film and then shown to us again later in the film, and in most cases in a slightly altered state. This effect both triggers the memory of those earlier scenes and their context and also makes us aware of the evolution of the objects themselves as well as the conditions of the children. Examples include Yuki's crayon set which she uses early in the film to color a drawing of her mother. Later in the film this full set of crayons is reduced to nothing more than a few nubs. Kyoko's piano is another example. Kore-eda also uses these details to progress the story. Instead of spelling everything out, the action is dedramatized and we are left with images of unpaid bills lying around the home, the children's hair getting longer throughout, and their clothing becoming more filthy and worn as well as dripping with sweat as the seasons change. Akira's shopping sprees at the convenient store become handouts of leftovers in the back alley as their situation becomes more and more dire. The incredible performances of the children are worth noting as well. These were some of the most natural portrayals of children I've seen on film as Nobody Knows captures a touching portrait of humanity.

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