Shoplifters (Japanese: 万引き家族 Hepburn: Manbiki Kazoku, direct translation Shoplifting Family) is a 2018 Japanese drama film directed, written and edited by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Starring Lily Franky and Sakura Ando, it is about a family that relies on shoplifting to cope with a life of poverty.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Hirokazu Kore-eda|
|Written by||Hirokazu Kore-eda|
|Music by||Haruomi Hosono|
|Edited by||Hirokazu Kore-eda|
Aoi Pro, Inc.
|Distributed by||GAGA Pictures|
|Box office||$64.8 million|
The film premiered on 13 May 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it went on to win the Palme d'Or. The film was released in Japan on 8 June 2018 and was a critical and commercial success. Shoplifters won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Feature Film, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In Tokyo, a group lives in poverty: Osamu, a day laborer forced to leave his job after breaking his ankle; his wife Nobuyo, who works for an industrial laundry service; Aki, who works at a hostess club; Shota, a young boy; and Hatsue, an elderly woman who owns the home and supports the group with her deceased husband's pension.
Osamu and Shota routinely shoplift goods, using a system of hand signals to communicate. Osamu tells Shota it is fine to steal things that have not been sold, as they do not belong to anyone. One especially cold night, they see Yuri, a neighborhood girl they regularly observe locked out on an apartment balcony. They bring her to their home, intending to only have her stay for dinner, but choose not to return her after finding symptoms of abuse.
Yuri bonds with her new family, and is taught to shoplift by Osamu and Shota. Osamu urges Shota to see him as his father and Yuri as his sister, but Shota is reluctant. The family learns on television that police are investigating Yuri's disappearance; they cut her hair and give her a new name, Lin.
Hatsue visits her husband's son from his second marriage, from whom she regularly receives money. The son and his wife are Aki's parents, who believe that their daughter is living in Australia. The family visits the beach and Hatsue expresses contentment that she will not die a lonely death. At home, she dies in her sleep. Osamu and Nobuyo bury her under the house, and continue to collect her pension without reporting her death.
Osamu steals a purse from a car. Shota is uneasy, feeling this breaks their moral code. Shota recalls joining the family after Osamu and Nobuyo found him in a locked car. Increasingly guilt-ridden about teaching Yuri to steal, Shota interrupts her theft by stealing fruit from a grocery store in view of the staff. Cornered, he jumps from a bridge and breaks his leg.
Shota is hospitalized and detained. Osamu and Nobuyo attract the attention of the police and are caught after attempting to flee with Yuri and Aki. The authorities discover Yuri and the death of Hatsue, and tell Shota that the family was going to abandon him. They inform Aki that Osamu and Nobuyo previously killed Nobuyo's abusive ex-lover in a crime of passion, and that Hatsue was receiving money from Aki's parents.
Nobuyo takes the blame for the crimes and is sentenced to prison. Shota is placed in an orphanage. Osamu and Shota visit Nobuyo in prison, who gives Shota details of the car they found him in so he can search for his birth parents. Shota stays overnight with Osamu, against the orphanage's rules. Osamu confirms that the family intended to abandon him and that he can no longer be his father. The next morning, as he is about to depart, Shota reveals that he allowed himself to be caught, and calls Osamu "Dad" for the first time. Yuri is returned to her birth parents, who continue to neglect her. On the balcony, she looks out over the city.
- Lily Franky as Osamu Shibata
- Sakura Ando as Nobuyo Shibata
- Mayu Matsuoka as Aki Shibata
- Sosuke Ikematsu as 4 ban-san
- Kairi Jō as Shota Shibata
- Miyu Sasaki as Yuri Hojo/Juri/Lin
- Kirin Kiki as Hatsue Shibata
- Naoto Ogata as Yuzuru Shibata
- Yoko Moriguchi as Yoko Shibata
- Yūki Yamada as Yasu Hojo
- Moemi Katayama as Nozomi Hojo
- Kengo Kora as Takumi Maezono
- Chizuru Ikewaki as Kie Miyabe
- Akira Emoto as Yoritsugu Kawado
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda 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 10 years before making Shoplifters. Kore-eda described it as his "socially conscious" film. With this story, Kore-eda 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, Kore-eda toured an orphanage and wrote a scene inspired by a girl there who read from Swimmy by Leo Lionni.
Lily Franky and Sakura Ando joined the cast before principal photography began in mid-December 2017. Child actors Sasaki Miyu and Jyo Kairi were cast for their first film. Sosuke Ikematsu, Chizuru Ikewaki and Yūki Yamada joined the cast in February. It was also one of the last films Kirin Kiki appeared in before her death in 2018.
Production began in December 2017, with Fuji Television Network, Gaga, and AOI Pro producing. Cinematographer Kondo Ryuto used 35 mm film with a Arricam ST, aware 35 mm was a preference of Kore-eda's and also seeking the right texture and grain for the story.
With Gaga Corporation as its distributor, the film was selected to screen at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it went on to win the Palme d'Or for best film at the festival. In Japan, it was scheduled for release on 8 June 2018. Magnolia Pictures also obtained the rights to distribute the film in North America. On 23 May 2018, Thunderbird Releasing acquired the UK distribution rights, while Road Pictures secured the rights to distribute it in China.
The film earned US$37.8 million in Japan, making it one of the highest-grossing domestic films of the year. In China, it grossed US$15 million in what The Hollywood Reporter called "an unprecedentedly strong performance for an imported pure arthouse drama".
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating 99% based on 165 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Understated yet ultimately deeply affecting, Shoplifters adds another powerful chapter to director Hirokazu Koreeda's richly humanistic filmography." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 93 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave Shoplifters 4/5 stars, declaring it a "rich, satisfying film", but subsequently upgraded this to a 5/5 star review upon second viewing. The Hollywood Reporter critic Deborah Young called it "bittersweet" as it "contrasts the frigid emotions of socially correct behavior with the warmth and happiness of a dishonest lower-class family". Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph awarded it five stars, hailing it as an "outstanding domestic drama, crafted by Kore-eda with crystalline insight and an unsparing emotional acuity".
For IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave it a grade of "A–" and wrote the film "stings" with "the loneliness of not belonging to anyone, and the messiness of sticking together". TheWrap's Ben Croll declared it Kore-eda's "richest film to date". In Time Out, Geoff Andrew gave it four stars and saluted Kore-eda as "a modern-day Ozu". Variety's Maggie Lee also compared it to Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens; Lily Franky's character Osamu was likewise compared to Dickens' character Fagin.
The film competed at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or on 19 May. It was the first Japanese Palme d'Or-winner since The Eel in 1997. Jury president Cate Blanchett explained the decision: "We were completely bowled over by Shoplifters. How intermeshed the performances were with the directorial vision". In July 2018, Shoplifters also won Best International Film at the Munich Film Festival, with the jury citing it by stating it "opens up new possibilities and ultimately offers [...] hope".
In August, Shoplifters was selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. It made the December shortlist in 2018, before being nominated for the Academy Award in January 2019.
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