Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Nobody Knows I’m Here (Nadie Sabe Que Estoy Aquí)

This peculiar but curiously moving drama from Gaspar Antillo is built upon a finely understated performance by Jorge Garcia, a man who could carry just about anything.

Perhaps best-known for his fan-favourite role as Hugo (or ‘Hurley’) in US TV’s Lost, here Garcia he speaks fluent Spanish as Memo, a reclusive Chilean sheep farmer hiding a secretly gorgeous singing voice and frequent, fabulously theatrical fantasies.

In what’s now become a familiar tale, this was supposed to play at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, but that was, of course, cancelled due to COVID-19, and this wound up being sold to Netflix. And surely there it’ll find an appreciative, if uneasy, audience.

The withdrawn Memo works at a remote farm with his Uncle Braulio (Luis Gnecco), who both shelters him but also mocks him in front of their supplier Sergio (Nelson Brodt). Memo has flashbacks to what seems to be him as a precocious kid, apparently breaks into the houses of locals for reasons unclear, and often dons fancy outfits and nail polish to mouth schmaltzy classics. For such a big guy, Garcia is surprisingly light on his feet, and in a sequence where he puts on a spangly kaftan and prances in the shadows he looks a little like jumbo ‘70s Greek icon Demis Roussos. And yes, Google him if you dare.

When Braulio suffers an accident, Sergio’s sweet niece Marta (Millaray Lobos) comes to check on Memo, and when she proves friendly and unafraid, he eventually warms to her, although his mood later swings and she retreats. And he, of course, then sings to her in what seems to be Jorge’s actual voice, and while we might be thinking that this will hereafter be the story of a unlikely guy plucked from obscurity and turned into a star, it most certainly is not.

Antillo’s tone is odd, even inscrutable at times, and his budget is low too, meaning that much of what we see has a kind of grimly grimy, Ken Loach-ian atmosphere – at least until Memo starts secretly strutting his stuff. And thus it falls to Garcia to make the movie tick and give it heart, plus a vague sense of existential horror.

Maybe he isn’t destined to spend the rest of his life as the butt of awfully tedious gags in awfully tedious Adam Sandler and Kevin Hart movies?

Reviewer Rating

Nobody Knows I’m Here (M) is now streaming on Netflix

DM Bradley

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