“Shoplifters” - Movie Review

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Shoplifters

Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Written by Hirokazu Kore-eda

With Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Mayu Matsuoka…

In his delicately subtle film “Shoplifters”, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda confronts the definition of family and raises ethical questions. The movie won the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. 

The movie opens with young Shota (Jyo Kairi) and his father figure Osamu (Lily Franky) shoplifting with choreograph moves that you can tell have been done before. They steal to survive, grabbing food and necessities for their family. On their way home on a cold night they see 5-year-old Juri (Miyu Sasaki) outside of her apartment. They seem to have seen her before. Her mom is not home and with sympathy they offer her some food before taking her home with them.

Home is a small house tucked in, almost hiding, between buildings. They live there with a grandmother (Kirin Kiki), Osamu’s partner Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), and another woman named Aki (Mayu Matsuoka). 


After feeding Juri the family notices bruises on her body suggesting that her parents harm her. They decide to keep her for the night, but one night turns into days. Juri is comfortable with her new family and Nobuyo says it is not kidnapping since they are not asking for a ransom. Even after she is reported missing on TV they decide that it is too late now and give her a new identity.

As the movie progresses we come to understand that these people have come together and chose to be part of this family. Shota was abandoned by his birth parents and rescued by Osamu and Nobuyo, and Aki seems to have run away from her home. But as quickly as they settle into a rhythm, things starts to fall apart.

Kore-eda makes you feel sympathy for this unconventional family raising questions such as can we choose our own family and do you have to give birth to be a mom. 

The director also wants to confront us with an eclectic group of people living on the fringes of society doing morally questionable things. It is a group of people cast aside by society, poor and left to deal with their problems on their own.

The film is beautifully shot and the narrative flows in a quiet, simple yet complex way. Kore-eda offers us some exquisite tableaux of people loving and caring for one another. 

“Shoplifters” is a compassionate and heartfelt movie that fully deserves to have won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.