Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #43 – Shoplifters (2018)

RELEASED: 23rd November 2018

DIRECTOR: Hirokazu Koreeda

CAST: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kairi Jō, Miyu Sasaki, Kirin Kiki, Naoto Ogata, Yoko Moriguchi, Yūki Yamada, Moemi Katayama, Kengo Kora, Chizuru Ikewaki and Akira Emoto



AWARDS: None (Academy Award nomination, Golden Globe nomination and BAFTA nomination)

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


A Japanese couple stuck with part-time jobs and live in poverty that in order to make ends meet they, from time to time, do some shoplifting. When the man and his son are coming back from their shoplifting routine they come across a young girl outside in the freezing cold and decide to shelter the girl.


Shoplifters is a Japanese film from Hirokazu Koreeda that was released in 2018 and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Set in Tokyo, we focus on a group of people living together in poverty. There’s Osamu and his wife Nobuyo, young boy Shota, Aki and her grandmother Hatsue, who owns the home they live in and supports the group with her deceased husbands pension. One day when Osamu and Shota are heading back home from their daily shoplifting routine they meet Yuri, a young girl locked out in the freezing cold and when they decide to give her shelter, they discover evidence of abuse and decide to informally adopt her, despite their lack of finances. Koreeda has crafted a beautiful film that focuses on the warmth and happiness of a lower-class family, not brought together by blood but by loneliness in some shape or form, and how messy it can also be when young Shota begins to question what him and Osamu have been doing as one moment of theft goes against their moral code of shoplifting as it is fine to steal things that haven’t been sold as they don’t belong to anyone (and we read further into that in one particular sub-plot in the film).For the house they live in, it’s a confined space, clustered with toys, duvets and even toe and finger nails, but they make do in each others company and their family dynamic feels authentic, even with their complexities. The film takes a turn in the final act but I still believe it was well executed with the theme that played throughout, thanks to Koreeda’s script. The cinematography from Ryûto Kondô is also really good here and the performance from the ensemble are great. Lily Franky is really good as Osamu, a shifty character with a cheeky grin yet he has that likeable charm to him, even though he’s taking this young kid (performed really well by Kairi Jō) under his wing and teaching him how to shoplift. Sakura And is really good as Nobuyo, whose closed off from young Yuri (played well by Miyu Sasaki) at first but inevitably forms a bond with her that brings vulnerability to her performance that is engaging to watch. Mayu Matsuoka is also really good as Aki, Hatsue’s granddaughter who has a sub-plot of her own working at hostess club and having a connection with a mysterious client. The scene stealer in the film however is grandmother Hatsue, another cheeky character portrayed greatly by the late Kirin Kiki, who unfortunately passed away not long after the films release in Japan.


FAVOURITE SCENE: The group take a trip to the beach, leading to arguably the happiest point of the film, with Hastue looking on as the rest at jumping in the water.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Sometimes it’s better to choose your own family.” – Nobuyo Shibata

DID YOU KNOW: Director Hirokazu Koreeda said that he developed the story for Shoplifters when considering his earlier film Like Father, like Son, 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. 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. To research the project, Koreeda toured an orphanage and wrote a scene inspired by a girl there who read from Swimmy by Leo Lionni.

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