Stars: *** 1/2
Rating: PG-13 for adult situations
Run Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes
This spare, sensationalist Japanese drama based on a true story is lifted straight from the front pages and reworked into an adult’s worst nightmare.
Domestic horror rears its ugly head by
chronicling the lives of four children abandoned by their mother for six long
months before someone takes notice.
Keiko (Japanese pop star You) moves her makeshift family – each child
fathered by a different man -- into a tiny
Until the fateful day that Keiko vanishes completely, leaving only a short note and some cash for incidentals. The burden of responsibility falls to 12-year old Akira (Yuya Yagira), a sensible youngster who struggles to care for his brother and sisters and adhere to his mother’s strict rules despite her cruel indifference.
The isolation takes its toll, as does Akira’s inability to properly provide for his siblings. His pluck and quiet determination is as courageous as it is heartbreaking. When tragedy ultimately strikes its painful and unforgiving.
Hirokazu Kore-eda works magic with the harrowing and claustrophobic atmosphere of
poverty and need. His gifted troupe of child actors (Yagira took Best Actor