GFT Blog: Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters

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Friday 23 - Thursday 29 November 

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them… Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2018, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s poignant drama is a rich and complex film. 

Why We Love It...

There is no such thing as a normal family. That’s the message that comes across clearly through this brilliant film. It’s a drama that is light and funny, and yet deals tenderly with some of the most important issues in life. The story centres on the life of a poor family who live, reasonably happily, in a Japanese slum. One day the father and son are out and come across a 4-year-old girl who is lost and seems to have no-one to look after her. They take her in, and as she gets to know this family, so we in the audience begin to see that the connections between the family members are not as straightforward as we first thought. The film pushes the audience to think about what matters more: your family by blood, or the people who really show you love in action.

Paul Gallagher
Programme Manager

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That age old question of whether it’s wrong to steal in order to feed your family didn’t even cross my mind whilst watching Shoplifters. Despite witnessing the family’s struggles with money, food and living arrangements I couldn’t help but feel like they were happier than many a modern family. Happy because they had to work together. Happy because they shared everything. Happy because their survival was made possible through community. Families have deeper connections than just blood ties. Much like watching a film in the cinema, families are forged through common experience. Common elation as well as common suffering. Shoplifters is one of those rare films where every single line and every single shot is perfectly judged. It’s a joy to watch and be a part of that family and share that common experience in the cinema.

Gavin Crosby 
Design and Digital Marketing Co-ordinator

Shoplifters is the story of a makeshift family, brought together in dubious circumstances and struggling to get by; living in a cramped house and stealing to eat and survive. They exist on the fringes of Japanese society, on potato croquettes and cup noodles, but Koreeda’s film is filled to the brim with humanity — small moments of joy, tenderness and togetherness that money can’t buy. When the Fagin-esque Osamu and his ‘son’ Shota come across a little girl freezing on a balcony, they take her home with them – and begin to teach her the tools of the shoplifting trade. Her parents do not report her disappearance for months.

Koreeda’s film asks complex moral questions; is a person’s past or social standing an indicator of their ability to parent? Is the Japanese nuclear family a guarantor of a good upbringing? Seen through the eyes of the children, every day is a new adventure, whether pilfering candy or enjoying a faraway firework display. But it is adolescent Shota who eventually tires of the charade, yearning to break away from his increasingly troubling existence and Osamu’s trickery. The inevitable unravelling is heart-breaking, but Koreeda is never mawkish or sentimental, upending notions of a happy ending in favour of bittersweet realism. Shoplifters is a film that will leave an indelible imprint on you long after you leave the cinema.

Charlotte Ashcroft 
Film Hub Scotland Programme & Marketing Coordinator

All Monday to Friday shows before 5pm have capacity capped at 50% (unless otherwise stated). All other screenings have full unlimited seating capacity (unless otherwise stated).

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