Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu's poignant, deeply affecting tale of child neglect -- all the more disturbing for being based on a true incident -- is definitely not for children, despite its rating. Young single mother Keiko moves her four children into a tiny Tokyo apartment. More child than adult herself, she is loving but also alarmingly casual about her responsibilities as a parent. Twelve-year-old Akira (Yagira Yuya) dutifully shops, cooks, cleans, and takes care of his three younger siblings, but his solemn face and anxious eyes reveal the terrible weight he shoulders. One day Keiko disappears, abandoning the children to go off with her latest boyfriend. The rest of the film charts their struggle to survive. Beautifully acted (all four children are non-professionals) albeit overly long (nearly two and a half hours), the film is an indictment of society. The children actually seem less disturbed by the downward turn in their lives than the audience does. The one glimmer of hope, in fact, is the innocence and resilience they exhibit. A beautiful but depressing film.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Producer: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Kitaura Ayu, Kimura Hiei, Kan Hanae, Yuya Yagira and Momoko Shimizu