Review: Shoplifters – It is sure to steal your hearts

Shoplifters is a movie about a family that thrives on shoplifting due to poverty and they took on a neighbourhood girl with them after they found that she was abused by her parents. The film also asks a serious question about what makes for a family.

This Japanese film, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, was first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it went on to win the Palme d’Or, the highest prize at the festival. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for the best foreign language film and the Golden Globe Award.

Based on some real life incidents and inspired by reports on poverty and shoplifting in Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda has written the screenplay. The movie has some realistic moments where Nobuyo tells Yuri that if someone beat you because they love you, don’t believe them.

Osamu is a daily wage labourer and a part-time shoplifter; his wife Nobuyo, who works for a laundry service, steals customers’ money left behind in their clothes. Aki works at a hostess club. Shota is a young boy and partner in crime with Osamu. Hatsue is an elderly woman who supports the group with her deceased husband’s pension. They all live together as one little happy family even though they are not related to each other.

Osamu and Shota finds Yuri, a neighborhood girl, locked out on an apartment balcony while returning home after shoplifting in a market. They bring her to their home, intending to only have her stay for dinner, but choose not to return her after finding that she was abused by her parents. Yuri bonds with her new family and is taught to shoplift by Osamu and Shota.

“Sometimes it is better to choose our own family,” Nobuyo tells Hatsue while sitting in a beach watching their ‘family’ play in the water. The family learns on television that police are investigating Yuri’s disappearance and after some beautiful and tragic ‘family’ moments, Yuri returns to her real parents who continue to neglect her.

M Chitharth