Nobody Knows

Rated 2.0 Four Japanese children fend for themselves when their flighty mother abandons them. Writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda based his film on a true story that made headlines in the 1980s, though his own treatment is purely fictional. The film has been getting ecstatic reviews (and 14-year-old Yûya Yagira, as the oldest brother, won Best Actor at Cannes), but at 141 uneventful minutes, it’s a monumental challenge to an audience’s patience. Koreeda’s technique involves long silences and static close-ups of hands, feet and foreheads that paradoxically serve to distance the viewer from the characters, and his elliptical style has major events occurring while the camera is otherwise engaged. Still, he gets very natural performances from the kids, and Yagira’s award, though overly generous, isn’t hard to understand.