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Home / Movie Reviews / Shoplifters is quite simply a masterpiece, says Rashid Irani

Shoplifters is quite simply a masterpiece, says Rashid Irani

Through a tale about an impoverished family that steals to get by, director Kore-eda questions the very notion of parenthood.

movie-reviews Updated: Jul 03, 2019, 20:32 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Expect the last half hour to be as unexpected as it is devastating.
Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Expect the last half hour to be as unexpected as it is devastating.
SHOPLIFTERS
  • Direction: Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Actors: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando
  • Rating: 5 / 5

He is arguably the greatest Japanese filmmaker alive, and in Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda undertakes a heartrending exploration of the traditional concept of family that will stun you several times through its two-hour runtime.

The film, incidentally, won the Palme d’Or (the festival’s top prize) at Cannes last year.

Working from his own superbly structured screenplay, Kore-eda, who also edited the film, introduces us right away to a tightly knit family comprising boy (Jyo Kairi), parents (Lily Franky-Sakura Ando), grandmom (Kirin Kiki) and aunt (Mayu Matsuoka). The ensemble performances are phenomenal, and Kore-eda remains one of the few directors who films faces in all their unadorned singularity.

Living by their wits, the impoverished clan has no qualms about committing petty larceny. They also don’t hesitate to adopt a five-year-old from the neighbourhood who was being abused by her parents.

The true antecedents of the characters unravel as the narrative unfolds. Events during the last half hour of the film are as unexpected as they are devastating. With uncommon grace and no trace of sentimentality, Kore-eda questions the very nature of parenthood.

On a related note, I do hope that the release of Shoplifters this week and Capernaum a couple of weeks ago means that our film distribution are finally casting their nets wider. Perhaps we can now expect to see other foreign language festival favourites such as Burning (South Korea), Cold War (Poland) and Ash is the Purest White (China). Keep them coming, please. 

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