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Koreeda at the top of his game
CountZero3139 June 2018
On the day I watched Shoplifters, the news in Japan was dominated by the story of a 5-year-old girl, beaten and starved by her parents, writing messages in her notebook begging for love. An eerily similar storyline is threaded through Shoplifters, but Koreeda's prescience is no accident - he engaged with similar stories in his 2004 film Nobody Knows. Family, in various degrees of warping, is the focus of Koreeda's opus.

Shoplifters concerns a three-generation family living on the fringes of society. Dad apprentices his son in the art of shoplifting, telling him things on a store shelf do not actually belong to anyone. He also tells the boy that only stupid kids have to go to school, which is why he doesn't. The older daughter performs in a seedy red-light peep show, and Mum works in a low-paid laundry job, searching pockets for any stuff she can pilfer. They live with granny, though any time a visitor comes they all have to hide themselves.

This warm but abnormal family is slowed revealed to be conjoined in ways we did not expect. The catalyst for this is Dad and son bringing home a neglected 5-year-old girl they come across abandoned on an apartment balcony on a freezing winter night. The girl comes home with them, and slots into the family, a pattern, we slowly realise, that has been repeated in the past. Granny was 'picked up,' and the son seems to have arrived by similar means. Their warmth and humanity is at odds with the illegality and disregard for social mores. Society judges such people, but by allowing us intimacy with them, Koreeda shows how society is also judged by them - and found wanting.

The slow revelation of the family's background, the naturalistic interactions, the judicious spacing of shocks and surprises, are all evidence of a master filmmaker in perfect sync with his material. The performances are sublime. Franky Lily and Kirin Kiki are Koreeda regulars and both are tonally perfect here. Koreeda shows that he still has a deft touch with child actors, first seen in Nobody Knows, a film that garnered a Cannes acting award for 12-year-old Yuya Yagira. Jyo Kairi has resonances of Yagira, both in his physical characteristics and his mannerisms. The maturity of his performance is stunning. Sakura Ando is outstanding as the mother-figure, made wise by bitter experience but also upbeat in her approach to life. Her threat to kill a minor character is chilling. One scene, where she performs straight to camera, answering a question on what her 'children' called her, rips your heart out.

There are many set pieces to enjoy here. A sharing of noodles on a humid summer day was one favourite; listening to, but not seeing, a firework display was another (what a metaphor for this family's peripheral status!). But the joy comes from the way the whole thing gels and shimmers, and provides steely insight on contemporary Japanese society, and the human condition. These are flawed individuals and Koreeda does not avert a critical gaze from their individual responsibility. The film explores big questions on living a good life and taking responsibility in an uncaring society. A simply stunning film.
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Subtle and nuanced
TheBigSick4 August 2018
For this stunning masterpiece Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda should win the Academy Award for Best Director. It is unbelievable that the rather complicated characters and their relationships are depicted in just two hours. The approach is mild, understated, low-profile, subtle and nuanced. Much room, space and thought are left to the viewers. The direction is simply super smart.

The cinematography is extraordinary, with some surprising long shots, close-ups and beautiful shots from tight angles. The editing is speechless, connecting numerous scenes just seamlessly. Not a single minute is wasted, and the film is largely intense and arresting. Together with the brilliant performances from the ensemble cast, the result is a satisfying and deeply affecting drama on lower class in Japan.
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Koreeda's empathy is displayed in the beauty of small moments
howard.schumann8 October 2018
The great Japanese director Hiorkazu Koreeda ("The Third Murderer") continues his exploration of the true meaning of family In Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku), a quest he began in his award-winning 2013 film, "Like Father, Like Son." Winner of the Palme d'Or award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and the first Japanese film to win the award since Shohei Imamura's "The Eel" in 1997, the film is focused on marginalized people existing on the fringes of Japanese society who barely eke out a living by engaging in activities that skirt the letter of the law. It is the story of flawed people who have patched together a working "family" of outcasts who believe that the impulse to survive and create a nurturing environment is more important than strict adherence to society's norms.

The film opens in a supermarket where Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky, "After the Storm"), a middle-aged, part-time construction worker, is seen exchanging strange hand signals with a pre-teenage boy, Shota (Jyo Kairi), who seems to regard what is going on as a family outing. It quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary family shopping spree but an exercise in shoplifting, as we watch Shota casually throw items from the shelves into his shopping bag when no one is looking. Justifying their flouting of the law, Osamu says that if the goods are in the store, it means that they do not belong to anyone, and tells Shota that they are stealing the items only as a means of helping the family.

Much later when questioned about stealing by the authorities, sadly he says that shoplifting was the only skill he had to teach the boy. Osamu, as it is gradually revealed, is the head of a household consisting of husband (Franky) and wife Noboyu (Sakura Andô, "Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura"), teenage daughter Aki (Mayu Matsuoka, "Tremble All You Want"), her younger brother Shota (Kairi), and grandma Hatsue (the late Kirin Kiki, "I Wish"), all living in a small, cluttered apartment outside of Tokyo, scattered toys and knick-knacks everywhere, barely providing the family with enough room to eat and sleep.

The family, as it turns out, is one in name only, consisting of those who have been "picked up along the way," and brought together as a means of mutual support. We discover that it is not only Osamu and Shota that are engaged in dubious activity but the others as well. Noboyu works as an attendant in a laundry and pockets things people leave in their pockets. Aki contributes by working in a porn shop, performing sex acts for men who are hidden from her view, while grandma is a conniver who plays the pachinko slot machines, claims her deceased husband's pension, and collects money from his son from another marriage.

The family's lives change drastically when Osamu and Shota find Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), a shivering little girl of four or five alone in the streets, seemingly abandoned. With her protection in mind, Osamu, who renames her Rin, brings the little girl home and discovers bruises on her arms that indicate she has been physically abused. Later, they see a news story on television about a child who is missing and how authorities are conducting an extensive search for her. Justifying their decision to hide the girl from the authorities, Osamu tells the others that it is not kidnapping unless you ask for ransom.

Osamu claims that they fear for her safety if she is returned to an abusive situation, yet he is not above using her as a decoy in markets as he and Shota engage in shoplifting. Through it all, Koreeda does not stand in judgment of his characters but simply observes the trajectory of their life in the tradition of Ozu and Naruse. When he moves into darker territory in the film's last section, its main focus remains on the humanity of the characters. When Nobuyo disposes of an item that is a painful reminder for Yuri about the family that abused her, she gives her a big hug, explaining that when people love each other, they give them hugs and do not hit them. In an exquisite moment, Yuri places her hand on Nobuyo's face who lets it remain there for a few minutes.

While Shoplifters contains elements that are painful to watch, what we take with us is Koreeda's empathy displayed in the beauty of small moments: The joy of trips to the beach, the sexual intimacy between partners that has been long repressed, and the expression on the faces of young children aware, perhaps for the first time, that they are loved.
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Great portrayal of ordinary folks' struggles and haunted pasts
gerald-koh996 July 2018
Excellently scripted and full of impressive subtleties, Shoplifters is a harrowing look at a working-class family in Tokyo, in the business of trying to simply make ends meet day by day. At first glance this may seem like just a story of this family resorting to petty crime, but as the plot gradually unfolds the reasons for the behaviour and decisions of each character is revealed, and al the dots begin to connect amidst this struggle.

Certainly seeing some of the characters getting involved in decidedly immoral behaviour- for example, the shoplifting carried out by the young boy and his father (as the title indications) and one young lady making a living off involvement in the porn industry, can be uncomfortable to see and it does present the characters in this film as morally dubious. But the whole situation that these people are in, and partially choose to create themselves, is eventually presented to the audience with unassuming subtlety, which is beautiful to watch. The overall tone of this film is fairly grim, and there is definitely raw emotional power to many scenes, but the acting and the script never at any point becomes overly sentimental or tragic. The scenarios and emotions that each character faces is really presented as it is, but of course with much delicacy.

This film may be relatively slow-paced and not visually stunning, but is breathtaking nonetheless. It's no wonder why it managed to win the Palme D'or! It's definitely going to end up as one of the best films of the year and will probably be recognised as a classic long in the future. Regardless of which culture you're from, I highly recommend checking this film out. It should deeply resonate with and impress any film lover.
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Heart warming social realism, an instant modern classic
bRAdY-0116 May 2018
Watched in official En Competition at the Festival De Cannes 2018 on the 14th of May. My favourite film of the festival of the titles in competition films screened, all round excellent performances with deft direction, superbly written this film benefits from being written by a humanist director following in the steps of previous masters like De Sica and Bresson. I really cannot recommend this film highly enough, social realism that shakes you to your heart breaks, an instant modern classic. Ten out of ten.
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Could be the best work of Hirokazu Koreeda
e-707333 August 2018
After filming several high-profile, slow-paced family dramas, the director Hirokazu Koreeda finally broke through the comfort zone he set up for himself in recent years. Through more skillful techniques and a more sagacious perspective, the tenacity and courage in "Nobody Knows" finally yielded an unhappy but very profound ending in the film. Even though the reconciliation between the individual and the world is no longer given hope, Hirokazu Koreeda's past unsolved thoughts resonate in a virtual space.. Therefore, it is not a bragging to call this film his masterpiece.
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Sometimes water can be thicker than blood
ctowyi17 October 2018
Hirokazu Kore-eda's The Third Murder (2017) left me cold and entertaining the notion that Kore-eda has lost his mojo. O ye of little faith, please forgive me... Shoplifters, fresh from being minted with the highest honour, the Palme d'Or, at this year's Cannes Film Festival, is Kore-eda back to being his emotionally devastating best. This ranks in the top tier of his outstanding output. If ever there is a film that can declare that sometimes, just sometimes, water can be thicker than blood, this is it.

Somewhere in Tokyo, Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky), his 'wife' Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) and 'daughter' Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) live in poverty. While Osamu receives occasional employment and Nobuyo has a low-paying job, the family relies in large part on 'grandmother' Hatsue's pension. As he is shoplifting for groceries with his 'son', Shota (Kairi Jo), they discover Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), a neglected girl. Osamu takes her home, where the family observes evidence of abuse. Despite their strained finances, they informally adopt her.

Once in a long while, a film can come along, sneaks up on you and sends your heart into a flutter of tiny explosions. Coming out of the screening with six other friends, we had to dissect what we had just experienced. As it turned out, it wasn't much of a deconstruction, but more of a discussion of the ideas of the family unit that Kore-eda paints with such delicate and painterly brushstrokes. That's when you realise the immense power of cinema and what it can do. This is a gem.

Kore-eda dives into his favourite theme of the family unit and observes what will happen to the bedrock of familial relationships if it goes through a seismic shift. It is a theme he has dealt with in outstanding films like Nobody Knows (2004), Still Walking (2008), I Wish (2011), Like Father, Like Son (2013), Our Little Sister (2015) and After the Storm (2016). After so many excellent films on the same theme, you would think what else can he still distill. Shoplifters may be Kore-eda most complex, but yet his most accessible film to date.

The ideas explored in Shoplifters are multi-faceted and piercingly intelligent, intermeshed into a tapestry that will fall apart if even one scene is taken out. The script is subtle and draws empathy readily. So many times the dialogue feels innocuous, only for the poignancy to hit you in the gut some time later. It doesn't judge, never points a finger at any party, nothing here errs on the side of twee. The tone is deftly maintained from the first frame to the devastating last.

As usual, the heavy-lifting is done by the youngest actors, performances so naturalistic that they feel authentic. The ensemble is superbly cast and each of them shines in their own memorable way. They may be thieves, but there is honour and righteousness in them. They do not represent the lowest strata of the Japanese society and don't believe in handouts. With a warped sense of justice, they are willing to break the rules to survive. Above all else, their love and trust for each other is the glue that binds them.

Kore-eda never cheapens the emotional ride and doles out expositions like sermons. Details of characters are gradually accumulated in a Zen manner till it hits a gut-wrenching last act.

Like a lot of his heart-wrenching films, Shoplifters feels like a 3-hour magnum opus and I was again surprised it is only a 2-hour film because Kore-eda packs so much in the story. You will no doubt feel like you had lived a lifetime with the characters. Shoplifters is essential viewing and provides many involving examinations of what constitutes a true family. I love what the matriarch of the family said in a contemplative scene at the beach and I will paraphrase - "Sometimes it is better to be with the family you choose rather than the family you are born in". Some food for thought there.
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powerful and humble
kmonfared1 October 2018
The storytelling is very powerful. It slowly puts you in a situation that you are comfortable with, and step by step reveals a hidden layer. It simply challenges what the society defines as bond, connection, family, etc, and how laws conform to that. One of the best movies I've watched in the recent years.
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Film Review: Shoplifters/
lucasnochez26 December 2018
Shoplifters by Hirokazu Koreeda is one of the most beautiful portraits of the family household and its elements ever graced on-screen, and yes, that is how I am starting this review. While the last little while has been an array of firsts, experiencing a Koreeda film, I found myself recalling immortal auteurs like Yasujiro Ozu with his "seasons" series of melodramas, chiefly revolving around domestic trials and tribulations of man and humanity itself. At times I found it played like a Vittorio De Sica film, sprawling with driven poverty and poetic synthesis, proving on being a companion piece to his infamous Bicycle Thieves. While this film is already in the company of great films, winning the Palme D'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Shoplifters is absolutely spellbinding! It's a film that is reviving the idea that modern cinema can move and transcend audiences in the most simplistic and organic of settings and motions.

In my humblest and sincerest personal opinion, classic French, Italian and Japanese cinema produces truly spiritual, dreamlike cinematic material. Works from these countries articulate family, love, and spirituality through a lens that is equally transformative yet daringly raw and different from Western cinema. Ringing true to the genuine human condition than anything I have seen from Hollywood, Shoplifters is a film that has shifted my opinion on modern directors and modern cinema as a whole. With Shoplifter's we are truly drawn to a familiar world where the lens provides a gaze though the eyes of a real auteur. While I always disregarded the notion that anything shot with a modern camera in modern settings could materialize into the type of work that Kurosawa or Ozu have created, I have always believed filmmakers like these have unmatched qualities, until now. Koreeda's extreme sense of self-awareness and implementing a strong social dynamic, the characters and narrative of Shoplifters blossoms into a truly hearty cinematic experience.

Although the story and narrative of Shoplifters really has no real importance, this is a film that truly draws from its actors and their interactions, to create a family that really delves into the depths of complex moral issues, bonds of love and the ideas of nature versus nurture, that hasn't been seen in film for many years. Yet, the casting in the film is perhaps, and although this may be a wholly bold statement, the best casting I have seen in at least a decade. Ranging from young child actors to older and respected Japanese acting icons, each familial role is worked and managed into broken down fibres of relatable family members we have in our own lives.

The film tells the story of the Shibata's. Osamu Shibata, played by Lily Franky, the real patriarch of the family, provides the film with the majority of its humour, especially when he is teaching his 'children' the fine 'art' of theft. Early on, we see that he passes on his skills to his 'son' Shota played exceptionally well by Jyo Kairi. Relentless and effortless, the two are shown to be very close and possessing so many of the dynamics seen between a father and son relationship we have come to expect in film. Shota's mother, Nobuyo (Sakura Hando) works at a dry cleaners providing her share for the family, also engaging in forms of theft. Nobuyo's sister Aki (May Matsuoka) works at a soft-core gentlemen's cyber club performing for her dividend. All of the finances rendezvous at the flat the family stays in tucked away in an extremely quiet neighborhood. A large chunk of the rent that comes along with space is paid for by the true matriarch of the household, Grandmother Hatsue, played tirelessly by Kirin Kiki, who recently passed at the tender age of seventy-five.

While each character's role is paramount in expressing the moral teachings in Koreeda's perfectly woven story, there is a firm affinity for Koreeda's sense of family and togetherness that does not go unnoticed. Each family member play each of their respectable roles honestly, spreading words and dialogue that ceases to shy from the harsh realities of such a lifestyle, yet brilliantly completely shatter society's belittling and scoffing nature towards them by being individual embodiments of humanity at all stages and ages of life.

The family begins to change its dynamic when Osamu and Shota walk home one evening from a routine shoplift, and find Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), a small child left in the barren waste of her broken family's home. Together, the two males bring Yuri back home, and the family agrees to keep her safe and make her one of them, a Shibata, due to their parents physical, emotional and mental abuse that can be heard from the open windows of their home. Once Yuri becomes a Shibata, the unravelling of a strong family unit begins, and in the most beautiful and gut-wrenching of fashion, even if what we are experiencing on-screen can easily be argued as kidnapping. Yet, one of the strongest questions in the film remains, is love experienced by strangers better than no love at all experienced by the people you call family?

To call Shoplifters unequivocally beautiful is an understatement. Shot by Kondo Ryuto with a diamond touch in 35mm, an utilizing a medium shot style of filming, which gives great emphasis to the family's dialogue, action/reaction shots and allows for actors to truly embody their characters, with each one of their quips to be internalized. With amazing attention to detail, Akiko Matsuba, set designer to the film, allows his vision combined with Koreeda's small yet meaningful narrative acts, magnify the characters powerful revelations onto the screen.

Although the main use of 3D in film, back when the medium was in its infancy, was implicated for the further immersion of audiences into the films they are watching, with films like Shoplifters, the true immersion audiences experience are into feelings of true warmth, a sensation that radiates from every scene and frame of Koreeda's Shoplifters. Shoplifters is a film that immerses the immersion of the soul. Focusing less on the actions happening around them and more of the facial, boldly and emotional reactions of his actors, the film is a true testament to the beauty of simplicity and minimalist cinema. One of the film's most powerful scenes, and easily my personal favourite, was a scene where we see the Shibata family collectively hang out of an open panned window, looking into the sky and stars, listening to the sounds and explosions of nearby fireworks. Hovering over the family like a precarious object, the camera captures the colours of its characters wonderment and marvel, as opposed to the fascinating and beautiful array of flames and fire in the sky. This shot alone showcases the very real and adorning obsession with Koreeda's skill and his fascination with human beings. Shoplifter's becomes a film who's universal look and bodily acting skills transcends language, countries, sects, cultures and religious beliefs. This scene alone had my heart fluttering with pure joy and happiness; a feeling that has been voided for me since seeing Akira Kurosawa's High and Low.

To describe how simply sensational and dynamic Shoplifters is as a film is similar to trying to describe color to a blind person; it isn't a simple task and perhaps, in the end, no words or description may do a colour justice. Shoplifters is similar to this feeling and sensation; no matter how much I try to articulate my feelings towards it, nothing can prepare you for the level of hypnosis and the mesmerizing nature of a film that really only features people and the truly genuine emotions they express. Hirokazu Koreeda's Shoplifters is easily the best film I have seen in 2018 and it is my highest recommendation to all lovers of cinema and lovers of people; It is a film that should be seen and embraced because, simply put, the film will steal elements of your heart...forever!
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Is blood thicker than water? (Thank you for everything, Kirin Kiki)
jMotzfeldt16 November 2018
I think the reviews already sums up quite good how stunning this film is. In addition to extraordinary cinematographic work and music (!!!), Hirokazu Koreeda raises a lot of difficult, though important questions, leaving you thinking about your own moral values and the idea of a family. All wrapped up in a simple, well written and beautiful plot.

However, I would like to draw som more attention to Kirin Kiki and yet another one of her amazing interpretations. Only four months after the premier at Cannes, Kiki died, at the age of 75. In some strange way I get the sense that both Koreeda and Kiki somehow knew this was going to happen, during the creation of Shoplifters. It may sound far fetched, but keep it in mind while watching.
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"Honest" Thieves
PipAndSqueak15 December 2018
Imagine yourself on the margins of economic well being. You're jammed into very small living quarters with barely an inch to yourself. Your work is unskilled and insecure. Your life lacks most of the things everyone else seems to take for granted. Nevertheless, you do have some, if small, control in the way you live your life. In the absence of blood family you choose an odd collection of other people similarly dispossessed. You have a kind of happiness and non-judgmental regard from those companions. Fortified, you begin to supplement your thin earnings with shop lifting. This becomes an exciting little game that you then begin to teach to a couple of child waifs and strays you take into your care. They delight you and they love you. Perfect, hey? We know it isn't. We watch unsurprised when the whole venture starts to unravel. Love lives on though. Even the thief is honest. This film is a compassionate treatment of a difficult subject. It is a little rough around the edges but a satisfying entertainment nevertheless.
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A fantastic movie
glorious-narayan11 June 2018
One of the best Japanese film ever. Script and direction is fantastic. Focusing in various tiny areas what is making the movie perfect.
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Should be a shoe-in for Oscar nominations in Best Foreign FIlm
alinashortmovie28 June 2018
I watched this at Cannes and absolutely loved it. Along with COLD WAR and BURNING, this film was my favorite in competition. It deftly woven together social realist tale that breaks your heart without ever once manipulating you. That humanizes its characters without ever patronizing them. A perfect movie.
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Not exactly enjoyable...but very thought-provoking.
MartinHafer30 November 2018
Hirokazu Koreeda made one of my favorite Japanese films..."Like Father Like Son". The focus on the film was what actually constitutes a family....and like this film, "Shoplifters" challenges the traditional Japanese notion of what makes a family and the importance of genetics.

This movie is NOT pleasant...and has many harsh moments. So, please consider this when you decide whether or not to see the movie. It's NOT an easy film to watch and if you are depressed already consider seeing a comedy instead.

The story is about a group of people who are a pseudo-family. They are not related but live as a family...with a grandmother, parents, sister and children...or at least folks who act like these roles. Why are they living as a family? Well, for mutual profit...and the children help pay the bills by spending their days stealing...much like the children who worked for Fagan in "Oliver Twist". Where does all this and the unpleasantness go? See the film.

The message of this film is unusual...that criminals like you see in the story MIGHT be better at parenting than the biological parents. It also exposes a truth you don't easily see when you are in Japan...that there ARE folks who fall through the cracks, so to speak, and are not productive citizens. I just returned from three weeks in Japan and evidence of the homeless and criminality of any kind is something you will have to struggle to find. It creates a portrait that challenges the cultural norms...something which some folks might not appreciate. Overall, a well made but very unpleasant film that deals with topics such as child abuse and neglect...not exactly fun subjects but ones which should not be ignored.
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vikascoder11 January 2019
An exercise in cheap shocks without anything holding together the disparate characters and their meandering arcs. This movie portrays a bunch of poor individuals living in the fringes of urban society and surviving by any means possible. Their relationships are suspect, there is some mystery in the proceedings as to their motivations or what drives them which never comes effectually in any of the slow burn sequences. It's just one mini episode after another, each one adding nothing to the feel or message of the movie. You don't care particularly for any one character since the focus shifts constantly from one to another without any cohesive thread holding it tight. The final half an hour is clumsily written and staged, the revelations cheapen the whole experience and feel engineered to evoke a response plus the movie's languid pace does not pay off at all in the end. Visuals are not arresting, it could be Tokyo or Thailand or China or wherever, there is nothing redeeming in this movie. It's shlock and shock and meandering and boring.
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The humanity and compassion of those who have nothing
birkeneds27 November 2018
If the skill of the Director is to create space for the viewer to think, feel, reflect and re-consider, then Hirokazu Koreeda has achieved this with quiet triumph in Shoplifters. The portrayal of the complex, loving and subtle relationships between the main characters - who live together in poverty - is reminiscent of the writing of John Steinbeck in Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat. Our assumptions on how they have come together and how their relationships play out are progressively challenged, and are seen through a variety of lenses. The ultimate impact is both moving and intriguing and a great tribute to the craft of the Director and the talent of the cast.
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Great performance from Kirin Kiki in her final role
Pairic26 November 2018
Shoplifters: A non-nuclear family drama infused with humour set in Tokyo. We have Grandma Hatsue (Kirin Kiki)who subsidies the rest of the clan with her pension, the father Osamu (Lily Franky) is a casual labourer, he teaches son Shota (Kairi Jó) to shoplift while he causes distractions, mother Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) works in a laundry and steals valuables left in pockets, her sister Aki (Mau Matsuko) serves as a hostess in a bar. Their relationships is left open to question but they function as a family.

Coming home from a shoplifting expedition, Osamu and Shota find a cold and hungry young girl, Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), they bring her home and feed her. They try to return her home but Nobuyo hers Yuri's parents quarrelling and violence occurring. They decide to keep Yuri after discovering bruises on her arms. Life continues, Yuri becomes part of the family, Shota uses her as distraction during pilfering escapades. Then Yuri appears on TV, social services have discovered that she has been missing for two months without her parents reporting it.

A tale of family life in Japan, how family isn't always those who are related to you, rather they are the ones who care for you. Even when Osamu is injured at work and Nobuyo loses her job they don't abandon Yuri. There is an interdependence going on here, Grandma doesn't want to die alone so she allows this ersatz family to live with her. But even she has her own secrets. At different levels the houses adult inhabitants are exploiting as well as caring for eachother. This is at times a satire about Japanese family life and the dichotomies between supposed familial responsibilities in theory and in actuality.

A great performance from Kirin Kiki in her final role before she died earlier this year. Kairi and Miyu are covoncing as children who have had a hard life but are moving beyond it. Mostly cramped shots in the small house or dark shops contrasted with wider, brighter, pans along the banks of the River. Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shoplifters deservedly won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2018. 9/10.
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Gordon-1124 November 2018
This film tells the story of a family who takes in a young girl they found on the street.

The story is slow, but as it unfolds, it gets increasingly interesting. I could not imagine the plot to end up like this. The ending is very powerful. It really exposes how the lowest social class struggle to stay alive. It is a very sad story.
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Waste of time
gniebnamuh12 January 2019
Don't be fooled by the rave reviews from critics. There is one test that every movie should pass: the opinion of moviegoers at the theater after the movie has finished. In my case, I went to see the movie after seeing the reviews from critics. However, most people in the theater hated the movie (and I mean really hated it), that says it all. After I saw the movie, I spent some time reading in detail the opinion of critics, to try and understand why there was such a disconnect between them and moviegoers. I discovered then, that the movie is so badly told in some ways that many of them did not even get right basic info like who was the daughter/son of who.

You will see many scenes of every day life of a poor family crammed in a filthy home that are simply gross, like slurping noodles again and again. I found no poetry in that. The shoplifting itself is such a botch that it would never work in real life. In short, every character in the movie is a loser, someone you will never want to talk to, let alone spent two hours with. Light years away from David Copperfiled.
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Well-crafted, humane, and human
mrosspub23 December 2018
It takes a while to process this very compelling, and somewhat disturbing film that zooms in, almost anthropoligically, on the bizarre "family" life of a group of lost souls on the margins of Japanese society. And it took me a night's sleep to even try to articulate what the movie is really about.

The acting is great, particularly by the children, who were clearly superbly directed and mentored. "Shoplifters" sometimes feels like a documentary, as it reveals the daily life of three generations of aimless people brought together by randomness and fate, but have a bond that is inexplicable but heartfelt. The movie casts a neutral light on this group without judgment or service to a predictable narrative arc. Still, it holds your interest, goes by quickly, and has a surprising finish that is both honest and shocking.

The directing, cinematography, and score are all first-rate. To sum up: If you like the cinema you will want to see the "Shoplifters," but it's more of a journey in humanism than a jolly night out at the movies.
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multi-generational poverty
ferguson-64 January 2019
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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Poetic black dramacomedy about family
angelica-boxer19 January 2019
The way the story infolds is so clever and the actors sublime. I find it the absolute richest film from 2018.
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Don't Ask just GO
lazopaola18 January 2019
One of the best movie nowadays, be aware that this movie will teach you about the real meaning of love...Getting to know all the characters makes you more in love with All of them... Sakura Ando perfomance was unforgetable..and makes this movie more special than all the movies this days. Even quiet moments where so well made that you can connect with the characters by just looking their eyes. Some movies are important and even Epic....This movie Is not only a very good movie; it's pure beauty and Proof that you Don t need a movie with a lot of special effects...this movie shows what an Excellent script can do.
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Watch out Roma--Shoplifters is lookikng at Oscar.
jdesando5 January 2019
Hatsue Shibata: I was sure she'd want to go home. Nobuyo Shibata: Do you think she... chose us? Hatsue Shibata: Usually you can't choose your own parents. Nobuyo Shibata: But then, maybe it's stronger when you choose them yourself.

After these demanding holidays, consider what "family" means. Regardless of your definition, Hirokazu Kore-eda' s Shoplifters will help define at least "extended family." This Japanese dramedy defines love as a central ingredient of family, despite the fragmented, sometimes tumultuous, little world of adults and kids occupying a small Japanese-style hoe, where most of what you see strewn around has been stolen from unsuspecting merchants and naifs prone to believing grifters.

Despite the formal nature of the film, romance is tucked away in heretofore unsuspecting corners such as everyone's love for and dependence on a 'Grandma" (Kirin Kiki), like others in this family not blood related but bound by affection and needs to be fulfilled through the small community. After Grandma's support, the other major source of funds appears to be outright shoplifting, facility by children savvy and innocent enough to win our hearts and never lose them.

Is this story funny? Yes. Is it eventually tragic? Yes. Do we love the characters anyway? Yes. Will this small film, winner of the Cannes' Palm d'Or, give jitters to the accepted foreign language Oscar competitors Roma and Burning? Yes. Should you see it with your family and expand your understanding of what family means? A resounding Yes!
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Over-long Drivel Pretending To Be Profound
martimusross28 November 2018
Just as Nordic Noir's themes plays to the insecurities of the Swedish viewer this panders to anxieties of the Japanese. In both it is given that below the shallow beauty, calmness and sophistication of their respective societies lays canker, dissolution and dysfunction.

We are presented with and it is later revealed an entirely mock family, we have the apparent hierarchy of grandma, mummy, daddy and children.

Through various twists and turns the movie attempts to make a comment on the human condition, namely that blood may not be thicker than water and that pseudo family bonds can be forged in the face of avarice.

This movie fails to engage the viewer on many levels, their is little character definition or development and as such we feel little sympathy for any of them. The constant repetition of "its cold, it's cold" irritates and the focus of nearly every scene are close-ups of quite disgusting table manners, quite a preoccupation with this director. Believe me acting props like this do not garner Oscars it is a cheap trick at realism.

Over-all this was a dreary overlong kitchen-sink drama focusing on the ugly lives of ugly people. If revealed very little of the human condition and had the tendency to normalise the viewer to theft, vice, fraud, child exploitation, blackmail and kidnap without moral condemnation. I also sensed no redemptive qualities in its conclusions and this left a nasty taste in the viewers mouth.

This was arthouse drivel that presented a mish-mash of vestigial thoughts, what was good, the cinamatography, apart from that why was this movie made and why did I sit through it, who knows!
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