starring Yûya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, Hiei Kimura, Momoko Shimizu
written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
by Walter Chaw Hirokazu Kore-eda's Nobody Knows appears so effortless that the weight of it by its closing credits is just astonishing. It's classical, formal filmmaking of the kind in which the Japanese seem to specialize, full of silences and long takes while featuring a quartet of performances from children that are so natural they feel stolen. Filmed between autumn 2002 and summer 2003, the picture was edited as it was shot, with the structure taking on the progression and characteristics of the four seasons and Kore-eda devising the shape of the next quarter as the previous one finished. No script was written for the children, who were advised before every shot of the substance of what they were to portray. Its evolution was organic, and evidence of that fluidity in its birth is, in the greatest stroke, never betrayed by telltale awkwardness. Nobody Knows feels like the truth unadorned and it feels like poetry--it's not often that the two share a breath. Between this and Hungarian director Nimród Antal's Kontroll, I've already seen two of the best films of 2005.