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A Japanese couple stuck with part-time jobs and hence inadequate incomes avail themselves of the fruits of shoplifting to make ends meet. They are not alone in this behaviour. The younger and the older of the household are in on the act. The unusual routine is about to change from care-free and matter-of-fact to something more dramatic, however, as the couple open their doors to a beleaguered young girl. The reasons for the family's habit and their motivations come under the microscope.Written by
Director Hirokazu Koreeda said that he developed the story for Shoplifters when considering his earlier film Like Father, Like Son (2013), with the question "what makes a family"? He had been considering a film exploring this question for years before making Shoplifters. Koreeda described it as his "socially conscious" film. With this story, Koreeda said he did not want the perspective to be from only a few individual characters, but to capture "the family within the society", a "wide point of view" in the vein of his 2004 film Nobody Knows (2004). He set his story in Tokyo and was also influenced by the Japanese Recession, including media reports of how people lived in poverty and of shoplifting. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. We typically think of family as blood relatives, those affiliated by marriage or adoption, and those funky cousins (sometimes 'removed') that, according to the family tree, are supposedly related to us. Expert Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda (LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, 2013) presents a story that will have you questioning whether the strongest connection is blood, heart, or money.
We first witness 'father' Osamu Shibata (played by Lily Franky) and adolescent 'son' Shota (Jyo Kairi) in a well-coordinated shoplifting maneuver at the local grocery store. On the way home they stumble across a shivering child, maybe 4 or 5 years old, who has been seemingly abandoned by her parents. They take her home to warm her up and feed her, and it's here we discover the multi-generational family living in a tiny apartment. This family also consists of 'grandmother' Hatsue (an excellent Kirin Kiki), 'mother/wife' Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), and teenage daughter Aki (rising star Mayu Matsuoka).
When the family discovers signs of abuse on the little girl Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), they decide to keep her - less an informal adoption than an admission to the club. See, this family lives in poverty, and finds comfort in working odd jobs and shoplifting. They do bad things out of necessity, in a kind of twisted 'honor among thieves'. Each person, regardless of age is expected to contribute to the team. The eldest provides a steady income through her deceased ex-husband's pension, and by scamming mercy money from his second family. Osamu and Nobuyo have regular part time jobs, while Aki works in a sexy chat room. Shota polishes his shoplifting skills and even tiny Yuri begins to learn by watching him. Everyone contributes in what can be described as a pyramid scheme of petty cons.
As the film progresses, we get to know each of the characters and begin to care about them ... rooting for them to find success. Writer-Director Kore-eda draws us in with subtle scenes of interaction between the characters, each willing to sacrifice for the other. He raises the question on whether choosing one's family might create a stronger bond than those blood ties. What really seems to matter is where we feel we belong, and where are accepted.
The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, and it's likely due to the devastating and expert final act. In a dramatic shift in tone, true character is revealed - it's a shocking revelation on some fronts, and fully expected on others. Each family member has a backstory that slowly unfolds through the first two acts, and then abruptly slaps us upside the head as the film nears conclusion. There are many social aspects to be discussed after this one, including how the child welfare system (seemingly regardless of country) sometimes works against a child's best interest, even with the best intentions. This is one that will grab your heart and then stick with you for a while.
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