In present-day Tokyo, young single mother Fukashima Keiko (You) moves into a new apartment with her 12-year-old son Akira (Yagira Yuya). With them are Akira's three younger siblings, all from different fathers, whose existence has been hidden from the landlord and much of the outside world. When their mother disappears, Akira continues to manage the household as usual, though survival becomes more difficult as the days and weeks roll on.
 

4
A small-scale film with an important message to contemporary Japanese society.

Nobody Knows is Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda\'s fourth feature film that he began to write 15 years ago. He was inspired by a real-life event that that took place in Nishi-Sugamo, Tokyo, in 1988. It was known as Affair of the Four Abandoned Children of Nishi-Sugamo.

Akira (Yagira Yuya), Kyoko (Kitaura Ayu), Yuki (Shimizu Momoko) and Shigeru (Kimura Hiei) are four children who live with their young mum Keiko, played Japanese pop and TV star You. Keiko\'s a bit of a rock chick; she loves her kids and spoils them rotten, but that\'s only when she\'s around. Twelve year-old Akira is the parent of this house, charged with seeing to the needs of the little ones. They don\'t go to school, have to live in secret in their tiny apartment and life\'s not much fun for them when she\'s not there. One day Keiko up and disappears, leaving the kids to permanently fend for themselves. Incredibly, no-one notices.

Kore-Eda plausibly sets up the characters and story by shooting the film as if it were a documentary. Meticulous attention is lavished on tiny moments and mannerisms; clearly he wants to convince us that this unbelievable situation could in fact happen. Pop star You is perfectly cast as \'bad mum\' Keiko, and the kids are wonderful to watch, especially Yagira Yuya who won the Best Actor Award at last year\'s Cannes Film Festival. Single mum Keiko comes in for some serious criticism by Kore-Eda. She is perhaps a symbol for what has gone wrong with Japan. Keiko has a low tolerance for boredom, is outwardly self-possessed, superficial and hedonistic, and has no problem with thumbing her nose at tradition and responsibility even at the expense of her children, all fathered by different men.

The children are set up as sacrificial lambs to this indifference. It\'s a moral judgment and Kore-Eda does not hesitate in making it here. But none of the adults escape a drubbing in Nobody Knows, they are set up as the kids in this story. Kore-Eda stops just short of demonising single mum Keiko, preferring instead to fire a whopping broadside at a bigger target. His modestly made, serious little film pours scorn on a seemingly self-interested contemporary Japanese society, which in his view, has forgotten the importance of family and the next generation. It\'s a sermon but one well worth watching.