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Film Review: Shoplifters 万引き家族 (2018) - Japan

Andrew Chan Cannes Hitokazu Koreeda Japanese film Lily Franky Shoplifters

Review: Shoplifters 万引き家族 (2018) - Japan

Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia) 

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Director Hitokazu Koreeda (“After the Storm”) continues his trend of portraying dysfunctional families with “Shoplifters”. One of the most beautiful aspect of this film is how the story is told without manipulation of emotions, but simply presenting the events as it unfolds in a slow yet dedicated pace. We see a family of sorts being on display, struggling to live in the commercial driven Tokyo as different family members resort to “stealing” in their own ways. As we progress in the film, we notice how these supposed low-life in society, are actually good people and probably better than those on surface live at a higher social class. This is one of Koreeda’s best work as everything simply happens as we see it and experience the lasting effect.


Lily Franky headlines this picture with a rugged up image as the supposed “father” of the family. His interactions and expressions are naturally portrayed with priceless range. The blank stare, the comic interactions with his “son” and kidnapped “daughter” and of course the “love” shared with his wife (played so involving by Sakura Ando). Ando is largely effortless in her role and that’s just how lovely the performance is. The late and much missed Kirin Kiki is does well as the strange yet lovely grandmother. The scene stealing role comes in the form of Mayu Matsuoka as the Ando’s younger sister and part time fulfilment of sexual fantasy. Jyo Kairi and Miyu Sasaki both shines in their roles as the “children” of the family.


All in all, “Shoplifters” shows a different side of the often glorified Japan, the real stricken poverty and those living in tatters. Like the Oscar winning “Parasite”, this is the kind of film that takes you on a journey of despair, survival and hopelessness, but within it we see the bright side of closeness, love and care from those we least expect. Director Koreeda have once again made a film for the ages and “Shoplifters” is one that lingers on the mind after its duration. As the saying goes, “those that thieve together, stay together”. There is a moment on the film that goes from good to greatness, and such is the magic of cinema that Koreeda manages to create. This is great film to watch.


I rated it 9/10


Shoplifters is available on DVD and Blu Ray here


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