Childlike, unmarried mother of four Keiko (You) has to sneak her brood into their new Tokyo apartment, telling 12-year-old Akira (Yagira) and his three younger siblings they're forbidden from making loud noises or going to school while she's at work. When Keiko abandons them – leaving a cheery note and an envelope stuffed with money – Akira takes charge of the household. But as days turn to weeks, Akira struggles to feed his siblings, keep the bills paid, and make sure no one discovers they're living there.
Why we love it
A lyrical, heartbreaking story based on a scandal that shocked Japan, Kore-eda’s “Nobody Knows” considers the precocious self-sufficiency of four children who band together to survive. Soulful young actor Yagira is a marvel as Akira, a kid who longs to live a normal childhood but shoulders the burden of caring for his sister Kyoko (Kitaura) (who handles house duties), and a toddler-age brother and sister. As conditions inside the apartment worsen, the children become more dishevelled, and their plight sadder. Kore-eda’s use of natural light and wrenching images of toys gives all this pathos a poetic veneer. The result is a film of strange, disarming beauty that packs a wallop.