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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nobody Knows I'm Here is a 2020 Chilean film (with English subtitles) that addresses the lasting damage done to talented kids who try to make it in the entertainment world. Deemed not good-looking enough, a gifted tween singer from Miami becomes the lip-synched voice behind a cute tweener idol. The humiliation ruins his life and drives him into isolation as an adult on a remote sheep farm in Chile. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bastard." A heavy man who has overeaten vomits profuse amounts. A youth angrily knocks down another boy and causes physical harm. An adult smokes cigarettes.
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What's the story?
NOBODY KNOWS I'M HERE is the name of a hit song attributed to Chilean tween idol Angelo Casas (Vicente Paxeco as a boy and Gaston Pauls as an adult), but that boy's career was secretly based on lip-synching to the voice of gifted young singer Memo (Lukas Vergara as a boy and Jorge Garcia as an adult). Young Memo's looks, according to the music producer, didn't conform to beauty standards for pop heartthrobs. The producer tells Memo's dad, a voice has to "come with a body...give me your son's voice. I'll take care of finding it a body." The story picks up with the deeply-damaged adult Memo, now a recluse working on his uncle's (Luis Gnecco) remote Chilean sheep farm, overweight, monosyllabic, and longing to be the performer he was meant to be. When a local woman tries to help out, his story is exposed. A viral YouTube video brings unwanted attention to Memo and the world invades his quiet life. Photographers snap long-lens pictures and drones hover over his farm's airspace to video him. His self-obsessed father (Alexander Goic), who had abandoned Memo after a tragic event ended Angelo's career, comes to beg Memo to appear on a talk show with Angelo to clear up lingering issues from the past.
Is it any good?
This film ably sets a tone that helps tell many stories. Jorge Garcia (TV's Lost and Hawaii Five-O) as the older Memo admirably stirs our sympathy, but we're left with a nagging sense that director Gaspar Antillo has lost his way, owing this story far more than just our pity.
When a local woman (Millaray Lobos) arrives to angelically bring Memo out of his shell, nothing about her perseverance seems believable. Later, it seems Memo agrees to appear on television with Angelo in order to set the record straight about their true story, but once the two meet, Angelo wants only to sell his new book and maintain the illusion that he sang his own songs. At this point, Memo's participation makes no sense. Equally confusing is the fact that while the actor playing young Memo has an eerily beautiful voice, the director cast a notably underwhelming voice for the adult Memo. This adds to the confusion in Nobody Knows I'm Here as the ending only works if the voice is exceptional.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the ways that fame in childhood can affect a person's life. In what ways do you think it's healthy for a kid to become a well-known entertainer, and in what ways might it be harmful?
What reasons does Nobody Knows I'm Here give for why a producer chose not to promote Memo's singing career but rather "give" his voice to another boy? Do you think appearance is more important than talent for a performer? Why or why not?
What does the movie try to say about the responsibility of parents to protect their kids? Do you think Memo's father acted like a responsible parent? Why or why not?
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