What to Expect: SHOPLIFTERS (2018)

By OGT Blog Squad Volunteer Polly O’Rourke.

Showtimes, trailer, and more available on the Shoplifters film page.

Written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shoplifters is an affectionate portrayal of an unconventional family, struggling to survive on the margins of Japanese society. Brought together by both family ties and circumstance, the family subsists on meager wages, supplemented by petty crime. Osamu (Lily Franky) is the patriarch of the group. He and Shota, a 10-year old boy (Jyo Kairi), collaborate in routine and skillful shoplifting. Other family members include Osamu’s wife, Nobuyo, (Sakura Andô), a young woman named Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and the grandmother (Kirin Kiki), all of whom contribute to the family finances by hook or by crook. In spite of their circumstances, the family’s home is a mostly happy and loving one, if not wholesome. The situation is somewhat of a house of cards, made even more delicate when the family takes in a little girl (Yuri, played by Miyu Sasaki) who they find cold and locked out of her home. They intend to return her to her family but change their minds when it becomes clear that she’s being abused. Though technically the family has kidnapped her, the girl thrives on their love and tenderness. Nevertheless, it is a house of cards, and her arrival heralds it eventual collapse.

Creating highly developed characters is one of Kore-eda’s hallmarks, so the viewer can expect a lot of emotional depth in this film. Kore-eda’s film are typically rich in detail relating to characters’ day-to-day lives, often creating the sense of being there. Consistent with other films by Kore-eda (for example, Like Father Like Son, 2013, and Little Sister, 2015), the nature of family is a major theme in Shoplifters, as the film requires viewers to consider what it is that really defines family.

Rating: R (for scenes with sexual content at the gentlemen’s club where Aki works; reviews don’t say that there is profanity or violence)

Awards

Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

See the full list of awards and nominations.

Other Points of Interest

Actor Lily Franky has appeared in three other films directed by Kore-eda: Like Father like Son, 2013; Our Little Sister, 2015; After the Storm, 2016.

Actress Kirin Kiki (1943-2018), an icon of Japanese cinema, appeared in a vast number of Japanese movies and television shows in a career that spanned over 50 years. Kiki appeared in five films directed by Kore-eda. After Shoplifters, she acted in three other films before her death. See IMDB for her filmography.

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2016 film After the Storm is available on Amazon Prime (free for Prime members).

Notable Reviews

New York Times

Washington Post

Roger Ebert

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