Review: Shoplifters Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda

Shoplifters; Director: Hirokazu Koreeda; Release date: November 2018
Film Shorts


A harsh - and likely honest - critique of post-war Japanese society. The film deals with generational issues and representation that falls apart after a ragtag group that had formed a family unit takes in a girl who was being abused by her mother (guardians). 

The first half of the film highlights in subtle ways the differences in the characters and how they came to be where they're dwelling. A key point is made about the girl's hair being brown, which symbolizes she's not of homogeneous Japanese ancestry.

Each of the other characters that form this family have key markers that symbolize their place in Japanese history, and how these people have been abandoned or lost their place. 

SHOPLIFTERS uses stealing as the opposite of replenishing, i.e., not contributing to society, with one point being theft is OK as long as the store does not go bankrupt. Unfortunately (one of) the stores does go bankrupt, which in essence is the moral bankruptcy of the characters and the society and the economic failings Japan has had to to deal with in recent times. 

The second half of the film addresses these issues, and unlike Hollywood endings, the viewer is left to contemplate meaning and path.

Recommendation: HIGH


Reviewed by Guichard Cadet