Winner of the Best Actor prize at Cannes for its young star Yûya Yagira, a twelve-year-old boy named Akira must care for his three younger siblings when their irresponsible mother leaves them in their Tokyo apartment with very little money.
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I love the development of Akira's character when he needed to act like a father to all of his siblings, and one time he act like a normal kid because that's what he supposed to do in his age. It somehow shows me how hard his struggle is.
Technically it's a very different approach for Kore-Eda, but still manages to keep his quiet fundamental nature. It can get a little too sentimental at times, but is still a very simple and well observed heart breaker. Yuki is just too cute for words!
Once I read about the true story behind this film I lost a bit of respect for it. The reality of the situation was much worse--there was a dead baby in a closet and the youngest girls (two) was beaten and killed and buried by one of the oldest boy's friends. Taking a story that has that much impact and watering it down that much is a shame. I'd like to hear the reasoning behind that.
The interest here is not so much the true story behind the events on the screen but, rather, Kore-Eda's subtle portrayal of life at the margins and the the indictment on adult roles, committments (or their lack thereof), systemic structures via an implicit anarchism from below. The latter is never whitewashed but the children's acting is not enough to sustain this overlong and conventional drama on invisible lives.
I don't think children from this kind of broken background would really be so adorable, or so accepting of their situation for such a long time. Surely they would try to do SOMETHING? Their morals are so strong to stop them from stealing, even when they are in such dire need? I think the actions of a lot (all?) of the characters are a bit unrealistic. Someone would report this! Their friend at least? The landlord?
Thematically, a less romanticized version of Graveyard of the Fireflies. The movie does a wonderful job of peering into the lives of children and their capacity to perpetuate normalcy in the face of crisis. Also it shines a light on how we, who are not experiencing the crisis, can manage to ignore it. I am tremendously impressed with this film.