A Japanese couple stuck with part-time jobs and hence inadequate incomes avail themselves of the fruits of shoplifting to make ends meet. They are not alone in this behaviour. The younger and the older of the household are in on the act. The unusual routine is about to change from care-free and matter-of-fact to something more dramatic, however, as the couple open their doors to a beleaguered young girl. The reasons for the family's habit and their motivations come under the microscope.Written by
Director Hirokazu Koreeda said that he developed the story for Shoplifters when considering his earlier film Like Father, Like Son (2013), with the question "what makes a family"? He had been considering a film exploring this question for years before making Shoplifters. Koreeda described it as his "socially conscious" film. With this story, Koreeda said he did not want the perspective to be from only a few individual characters, but to capture "the family within the society", a "wide point of view" in the vein of his 2004 film Nobody Knows (2004). He set his story in Tokyo and was also influenced by the Japanese Recession, including media reports of how people lived in poverty and of shoplifting. See more »
Great portrayal of ordinary folks' struggles and haunted pasts
Excellently scripted and full of impressive subtleties, Shoplifters is a harrowing look at a working-class family in Tokyo, in the business of trying to simply make ends meet day by day. At first glance this may seem like just a story of this family resorting to petty crime, but as the plot gradually unfolds the reasons for the behaviour and decisions of each character is revealed, and al the dots begin to connect amidst this struggle.
Certainly seeing some of the characters getting involved in decidedly immoral behaviour- for example, the shoplifting carried out by the young boy and his father (as the title indications) and one young lady making a living off involvement in the porn industry, can be uncomfortable to see and it does present the characters in this film as morally dubious. But the whole situation that these people are in, and partially choose to create themselves, is eventually presented to the audience with unassuming subtlety, which is beautiful to watch. The overall tone of this film is fairly grim, and there is definitely raw emotional power to many scenes, but the acting and the script never at any point becomes overly sentimental or tragic. The scenarios and emotions that each character faces is really presented as it is, but of course with much delicacy.
This film may be relatively slow-paced and not visually stunning, but is breathtaking nonetheless. It's no wonder why it managed to win the Palme D'or! It's definitely going to end up as one of the best films of the year and will probably be recognised as a classic long in the future. Regardless of which culture you're from, I highly recommend checking this film out. It should deeply resonate with and impress any film lover.
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