Review: Nobody Knows I’m Here is Cinema At Its Finest

It is true that international productions bring out much-needed diversity in audio-visual storytelling. However, the fact that they reinforce the universality of human nature is equally important. That is the reason quality productions of foreign languages turn out to be equally (sometimes more) powerful. Spanish-language productions have been extremely prominent, especially on Netflix.

‘Nobody Knows I’m Here’ is a Spanish-language movie that would resonate with the toughest of souls. The movie is directed by Gaspar Antillo, and serves as his first full-length, directorial venture. Does he prove to be an exciting, upcoming filmmaker though? There is only one way to find out. The film stars Jorge Garcia in the leading role while the other cast members include Gastón Pauls, Solange Lackington, Luis Gnecco, and several others.

Nobody Knows I’m Here Plot:

The movie follows a man named Memo who lives on an island with his uncle. Leading a mostly reclusive lifestyle, he is extremely awkward around other people and dreams of singing in vibrant clothes, sporting pretty nail polish. He has sewn a beautiful, (some-might-think) feminine dress that he often wears while singing. It is revealed that he had been a childhood singing prodigy. However, due to his weight, another, more attractive boy named Angelo Casas was portrayed as the “face” and “body” to his voice, for commercial reasons. Casas went on to have a seemingly more popular life.

One day, Memo’s uncle’s finger gets cut and he has to be taken to the nearby island, in order to see a doctor. He has to stay there for a few days, leaving Memo completely alone on their island. A woman named Martita who does business with Memo and his uncle spots Memo dancing and singing in his dress. Memo gets shy, runs away to his house, and does not talk to her at first. They eventually converse and Martita gives him his card, offering any help he might need.

Martita comes back later to hang out. However, when she mentions Casas, Memo flips a table angrily. When Martita starts to leave since she is scared, he sings his song (made famous by Casas), “Nobody Knows I’m Here.”

One day, Memo sneaks into Martita’s house and overhears her friend mentioning a video of Memo and Casas. It is revealed that Memo had pushed Casas while he was performing in an enraged state when they were kids. Memo’s uncle returns to the island with his finger sewn back into place. Martita’s friend comes to Memo’s island since he wants to share his story. Memo intimidates him to leave. Eventually, the press starts hounding Memo on his island. Memo’s father visits the island to inform him and his uncle that a video (taken by Martita) of him singing has become viral. Casas has invited him to an interview. It is revealed that Memo’s father had abandoned him.

Begrudgingly, Memo accepts the interview request and goes to the city for it. It is revealed that Casas had become wheelchair-bound due to Memo having pushed him. Casas wants to portray himself as the victim. He has become some sort of motivational/pseudo-spiritual icon. On air, Memo shouts at him, telling him that he stole his voice and then starts singing “Nobody Knows I’m Here.” The movie ends with Memo and Martita cuddling each other in bed.

Nobody Knows I’m Here Review:

Gaspar Antillo truly makes his mark and announces himself with ‘Nobody Knows I’m Here.’ The movie proves to be an extremely well-handled story of isolation. The correct verb for the way the story is handled would be “choreographed.” One only needs to watch a few minutes of it to realize Antillo’s grip on framing and visuals. An aerial shot of a boat advancing is the first indication of that.

Moving on, there is a sense of surrealism in the story. However, it doesn’t take over the film’s aesthetic. There are just a handful of scenes that seem to be truly otherworldly and they have a huge impact. For instance, there is a scene involving Memo puking an impossibly large amount of glittery liquid which seems to be truly jaw-dropping. Apart from that, a few shots see Memo imagining a red spotlight shining on him in his house and these have been handled with great care too. The low frequency of such imagery is actually what makes it work the most.

The plot itself, on paper, might not seem to be very shocking or one-of-a-kind. But the way that the narrative has been paced is what makes the revelations quite surprising. ‘Nobody Knows I’m Here’ is atmospheric and slow-burn in tone. It slowly wraps itself around viewers, sucking them into the solitary world of Memo, making one truly feel for him. This is what proves to be its greatest strength. Jorge Garcia’s acting proves to be perfect for the role.

Next, the background score is also something that helps make ‘Nobody Knows I’m Here’ effective. All the elements of the film seem to coalesce rather poetically. While most of ‘Nobody Knows I’m Here’ might feel melancholic, the ending turns out to be quite uplifting. It is one of the best character studies that one might have seen in recent times and should not be missed.

Rating: 4.5/5

Read More: Best Character Studies in Movies