Last night I watched the Japanese film Nobody Knows (2004), in which an irresponsible Japanese mother with four children by four different fathers settles her children in a new apartment, then leaves them alone for longer and longer periods of time, until she finally leaves permanently.
The eldest child, Akira, who is only twelve years old, is left to fend for himself and for his three younger siblings. When the money runs out, Akira must find other ways to support his little family. He will not go to social services, because he fears being separated from his siblings. Their mother has never allowed them to go to school, and so they live a life on the outskirts in the middle of Tokyo, unwitnessed and unaided.
There are poignant details in this movie--little details that emphasize the beautiful love the siblings have for one another, the primal bond of family, and the amazing adaptability of children. Beautifully filmed, beautifully acted. But the final scenes had me crying harder than I thought I would ever cry at a movie, and today I cannot forget the experience.
Saddest of all is the fact that this movie was based on a real story, and that the true story was apparently much worse than the one which made me cry last night.
This movie is wonderful, if you can bear your own tears.