‘Shoplifters’ a Deft Delicately Rendered Family Saga

Emotionally Powerful in Quiet, Unexpected Ways

Jyo Kairi in 'Shoplifters'

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Jyo Kairi in 'Shoplifters'

Winner of this year’s Palm d’Or award at Cannes, this remarkable film by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is a deft, delicately rendered family-saga film of a very different sort. Kore-eda has created a humanistic, compassionate, complex window on a cobbled-together but loving family unit living in poverty in Tokyo, with borrowed children saved from squalid lives, and taught the art of shoplifting or forced to make money in a chaste strip club. Even so, an underpinning of love complicates both the characters’ relationships and our own acceptance of the questionable faux family tapestry. Touches of neo-realism (though in a film made with care and polish) and picaresque slices of life intersperse with heart-warming vignettes, as well as harsh reality checks and moral comeuppances. Shoplifters is emotionally powerful in quiet, unexpected ways.