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A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold.

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.

"Delicate business is being transacted in this soft-spoken, cinematic treasure from Hirokazu Kore-eda, the Japanese master behind films like Nobody Knows, Like Father, Like Son and After the Storm. Still, Shoplifters made a big noise at the Cannes Film Festival in May, going home with the Palme d’Or — and you only need to watch this quietly devastating gem to see why. Set in a residential, non-touristy part of Tokyo, his latest focuses on a family crowded together in a ramshackle house. They seem like any other affectionate, dysfunctional clan, except for its main source of income, which is petty theft. In the opening scene, Kore-eda shows us Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky, a spirited life force) and his preteen son, Shota (Jyo Kairi), lifting items from a grocery store. Their cold calculation does not indicate a lack of warmth. Spotting a little girl locked out of her apartment and freezing on a balcony, they decide to take her home and feed her like a stray cat.

Kore-eda takes pains to show how this disparate group finds a nurturing love in the confines of their cramped quarters. With no room to move around, it’s amazing that Osamu and Nobuyo manage to squeeze in time for sex, which they finally do in a scene of moving and exquisite eroticism. It’s not long before Rin is inducted into the family’s shoplifting business, proving a natural at the game. That is, until something goes horribly wrong and the law comes looking for her.

The police search is a rare moment of overt melodrama for Kore-eda, whose films move at a deliberate pace that has brought comparisons to the gentle genius of Yasujirō Ozu. But this is a filmmaker dedicated to going his own way and there’s more surprises to come in an ending that enriches the film’s enveloping mystery. The less you know about the shifting plot of Shoplifters before you see it, the better. But the story Kore-eda constructed out of a news story transcends local politics. The filmmaker’s critique of labor conditions in Japan, where Osamu notes, “everyone gets a bit poorer by the day,” is all too easy to apply to other countries. Above all, the director is a humanist, attuned to the interactions of people that define them as a unit within a larger society. And in Shoplifters, which has the makings of empathetic, enduring classic, Kore-eda examines the nature of what makes a family and how it stands up to poverty, prosecution and government neglect. It’s impossible to experience the deep-seated compassion of this film and not be moved to tears"

Courtesy - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


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Directed by: 
Hirokazu Koreeda
Running Time: 
Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Mayu Matsuoka
Screenplay by: 
Hirokazu Koreeda

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