Hirokazu Kore-eda (After the Storm; Our Little Sister; Like Father, Like Son) continues to tell stories of complicated familial relationships in his latest feature, Shoplifters. Winner of the 2018 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the film explores the ways in which the comfort and security of a loving family can sometimes overshadow morally questionable behaviour.
Osamu (Lily Franky, Like Father, Like Son), his wife, Nobuyo (Sakura Andô), and their family are struggling to live in Tokyo off pension money and the income from their low-paying jobs. As a result, they turn to shoplifting as a means of survival. One day, when Osamu is shoplifting with his son Shota (Jyo Kairi), they come across Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), a young girl who appears to be homeless. They bring her home for dinner and, soon after discovering signs of abuse, decide to take her in as one of their own, eventually training her in the “family business.” When the family hears that Yuri’s abusive parents are looking for her, they cut her hair and rename her Rin to keep her safe.
While it is clear the family will go to almost any lengths to gain financial stability, Rin’s new family provides her with a loving, supportive, and nurturing environment. Shoplifters asks the audience to consider which life is more desirable: one full of love and support but that is tied to unethical and illegal actions, or a life that is “approved” but ultimately empty.
“Shoplifters is compassionate, socially conscious filmmaking with a piercing intelligence that is pure Kore-eda. This is a film that steals in and snatches your heart.” (Robbie Collin, The Telegraph)
“A tender ensemble piece whose skillful performances dovetail into a perfectly symphonic whole, Shoplifters is a work of such emotional delicacy and formal modesty that you’re barely prepared when the full force of what it’s doing suddenly knocks you sideways.” (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)
“Kore-Eda is working up to something else, steering the story he’s built so carefully toward an utterly unexpected detour. As much of what we think we know unravels, the film becomes not just an enjoyable, intermittently poignant portrait of imperfect people but a profound meditation on the meaning of family.” (Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly)