Shoplifters (2018) dir. Hirokazu Koreeda

seen at RigaIFF 

What starts as a clear look at a family in Japan, who are struggling to survive, slowly turns into a devastating portrayal. It is the newest work of the Japanese film director Hirokazu Koreeda, who was awarded Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes film festival, surpassing Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. 

Told in director’s own classical Japanese style, it tells a story about a family that meets their ends with shoplifting, when suddenly opens their doors to a 5 year old girl. It is a complex, a little subtle, nuanced but not overdone drama that grabs us slowly and deeply.

The world of the Shibata family seems like a different world. Starting with the environment that they are in, ending with their state of mind. Since the first scenes we are being introduced to it – slowly, steadily, just as we would be there, standing in the corner of the shop and looking at the father, at the son (Kairi Jyo) stealing groceries. As we get into the living spaces of the family, it gets more intimate, with everyday situations the realness of their lives is in front of us. The viewer could wonder how there was enough space for the camera equipment. Surprisingly, everything has its own space. Everything moves with us, camera is still when needed or trembling when the characters feel scared.

The Grandma (Kirin Kiki) is there and plays a vital role that is also her last, both in film and in real life. Lily Franky (from the director’s film Like Father Like Son) plays the father figure, and is the main moving force. His wife (Sakura Ando) works in a laundry and is stealing too. Their teenage daughter (Mayu Matsuoka) helps the family financially by working in the porn business in the town. What the family does not percieve is that they have stolen the girl just in the same way they steal everything else, a girl is not completely saved, how it could be thought; she has her own parents that though didn’t want the pregnancy, are looking for her. In time the house of cards come tumbling down. When the it is down, family members are separated, we see them interviewed at the police stations – the film stills looking like paintings, having so much emotion one could have. Also like a painting the film is made, with light, delicate strokes, symbolic moments, and significant eye sights. Director is not giving us waves of emotions but the whole film is filled with feelings. 

It shows us how damaged people can be, how easily life goes, how much beauty can be in people but also how much pain lays under it.

November 4, 2018

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