Shoplifters movie review: This Hirokazu Kore-eda film will leave you shaken and fulfilled

Kore-eda can be said to be a family specialist, having created big things out of little gestures and unspoken thoughts in his previous films (Nobody Knows, Like Father, Like Son); here he continues with his exploration: what does it mean to be a family? Or soul-crushingly destructive. She becomes a part of them; she becomes ‘family’, and then, quite suddenly, things start to unravel. Advertising

The money they all make legitimately is far from enough: this gang shoplifts to get by. And Kore-eda is a master: each revelation, as shocking as it is, comes with great delicacy and humaneness. The result is a devastatingly good film that leaves you shaken and stirred and fulfilled. There’s Nobuyo (Ando), with her mature beauty and her dispiriting job in a laundry, and the pretty Aki (Matsuoka) who works as a hostess in a ‘club’, the sort of place frequented by men in search of paid pleasure. They name her Yuri, and she, who has clearly been abandoned and abused by the parents who gave her birth, flowers. They may not, as we discover, share blood, but are more family than most families. That the performances are all top-notch (the little girl is a scene-stealer), helps. 0
Comment(s) Families may disintegrate, but love keeps us ticking over. It is a film edged by despair, and yet is life-affirming. In the hands of a less skilled craftsman, these shoplifters and their dodgy doings could easily have descended into sludge. Osamu and Shota work swiftly, deftly, in tandem, nicking little household items such as shampoo and soap, and go back to a warm space filled with soupy noodles and a kind of tenuous yet bracing love that keeps them all together. Advertising

Families can be nurturing and nourishing. There’s a grandma-like figure named Hatsue (Kiki), a man called Osamu (Franky) who is somewhat past his prime, and who goes out to ‘work’, accompanied by the sharp young Shota (Kairi Jyo). On the outskirts of Tokyo, there lives a group of tightly-knit people in an unimaginably cramped hovel. With Shoplifters, which won a top prize at the Cannes festival in 2018, Kore-eda digs in deep to ask seminal if uncomfortable questions: is it blood that binds us, or something else? Or both. And then one day, there arrives a very young girl (Sasaki) in their midst.