DIY Cannes 2013: Nobody Knows

nobodyknows1To stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

And yes, I know it’s over, but 2 week long trips in the middle of this project set me back very far. I’m going to finish it up anyway BECAUSE I CARE. Or I’m still unemployed.

 

 

Movie #11: Nobody Knows

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

His Cannes 2013 Movie: Like Father, Like Son

One of my favorite parts of actually attending the Cannes film festival is not knowing literally anything about a movie before you go in. Sometimes you get a log line, but usually not. You don’t have an IMDb score to level your expectations, you don’t even have a poster. Just a title and a director. And maybe – “Oh the one with child abuse AND lesbian sex?” Regardless, it’s an experience I truly miss. With Nobody Knows, I was pretty much able to replicate this experience for better or for worse. However, it makes me sharing my thoughts on a movie almost hypocritical if you haven’t seen it, so ignore me.

As the film opens in a light-hearted plucky way, we meet Keiko (played by someone credited as “You”) and her 12 year old son Akira (Yûya Yagira). They are new tenants to the building and introduce themselves to the landlord. They haul their suitcases up to the apartment and begin to unpack.

Now here is where I tie in my intro and spoil a major plot point of the first 3 minutes. Well, I didn’t even read the plot synopsis on IMDb, so when two other children popped out of those suitcases, my jaw was on the ground. It turns out that what “nobody knows” about is the fact that Keiko doesn’t have one child, but four. And she keeps three of those children indoors all the time. Her motives are never completely explained, but it surely has something to do with money. They aren’t prisoners or anything. In fact everyone is quite content. But they can’t be seen.

As Keiko’s mothering abilities start to fade, Akira picks up the slack. Fortunately, this gives us a lot of time to just watch Yûya Yagira find his way through the world. He brings to life the mind of Akira, always thinking, calculating, and counting. He is constantly aware of his surroundings in a way his brother or sisters will never be able to experience.

I would also be ashamed of myself if I didn’t mention how different this movie looks from any of the others. Kore-eda gives it the intimacy of a home movie with the wild exploration of Terrence Malick. He catches all of the little moments and loves looking at the kids’ feet and shoes. As we watch them walk and pace, we learn that they are forever trapped in this life style, repeating the same steps.

The catch is that there is so much great stuff to talk about this movie because it is about 30 minutes too long. It’s use of melancholy isn’t used to show something meaningful, say, the ennui of the kids who don’t leave the apartment. It’s instead used to mark the passage of time and the durability of the kids, which is a little more tedious than anything.

Fortunately, there is a relentless sweetness and tenderness throughout the movie that will leave you smiling. And these directors don’t make enough movies worth smiling about.

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