Shoplifters was an experience where I saw something that could have been grey and gloomy getting interpreted in a positive way. It takes its time to set the tone of the movie and also to let us settle with the onscreen family. But after that when it starts to peel off everything it made us believe, the film becomes equally heart wrenching and surprising. With light getting shed on a perspective we don’t necessarily traverse, Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Shoplifters is a beautiful slice of life experience.

Set in the backdrop of Tokyo this movie is about a family living in the slums of the city. In the very beginning itself, we are seeing how the family gets a new member. The father and son are Shoplifters who get everything they need from Supermarkets. There is a grandmother, an aunt like figure is there and the new member in this family is a younger sister to the boy in the family.

As I said, this film invests a lot of time familiarizing us with this family who lives cordially among difficulties. When I saw the film with an audience, somebody was criticizing the movie at the end saying it shouldn’t have been this long. But in my opinion, the portions showing the difficulties having the length it currently has makes us very familiar to the family and because of that, the revelation that happens in the last 30 minutes of this movie becomes a very heartening experience. Ultimately the filmmaker shows us how this family within its limitations served the purpose of being a supportive family, and the movie gets a place in your hearts when you realize such moments.

What has to be appreciated here is indeed the scripting pattern. Because of the way it has been constructed, a grey theme gets a very cheerful interpretation. It is really odd how a faking family made sense in many aspects. In one scene the father notes the son’s fascination towards breasts and he openly asks him about it and it eventually takes away that awkwardness the boy was feeling. The purpose of the family being a collective support gets depicted in a very endearing way and in the end, they show the contrasting visuals of each of them in better living conditions but struggling miserably on an emotional level. And the movie also doesn’t bother to show so much of back stories as it is confident that we as an audience will eventually dwell on it.

The actors are effortlessly slipping into the roles assigned to them. There is a shade of endearing quality in each of them which sort of makes us root for them even when you can blame them may be for ruining certain futures. Hirokazu Kore-Eda sort of leaves that debate for us to judge by showing both sides of it. And the movie also becomes that debate about unrecognized forms of humanity in a civilized world. A burning question of why it was a wrong thing to do lingers on your mind.

Shoplifters definitely has the quality of a world cinema. It has a humanity-related politics, deeply rooted emotions and texture of the native lifestyle in the most brutal way. Kakkothikkavile Appooppan Thaadikal was the first movie that came to my mind after watching this gem.

Final Thoughts


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended