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NYFF 2018 Review: “Shoplifters” (2018) ★★★★★


Generosity does not come with extra digits in the bank account; it comes from the bottom of the heart – a place some people are yet to discover.

“Shoplifters” from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda, winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes, follows a small and extremely poor band that do their best to survive. As part of their way to feed themselves, they go to the local grocery to steal some stuff. They don’t really steal from the poor, however, we somehow never blame them for doing that at all.

Things change when Shota (Kairi Jyo) and a middle-aged man, Osamu (Lily Franky), find the four year old, Juri (Miyu Sasaki), freezing on a balcony after being left by her abusive parents. They don’t even think twice and take the little girl to their home to offer what she did not have in her own well-established home – care and unconditional love. Osamu and his wife do not report to the police about Yiri’s situation and do not even ask for ransom. All what they think of is giving the best care to Yuri while the law considers it otherwise – kidnapping.

“Shoplifters, very subtly, captures a family portrait where not all relations are made by blood, but rather their heart, soul and kindness. If that’s not how a family should function, then how else? The filmmaker cleverly showcases the struggles the family or the band go through on a daily basis. However, somehow they never lose spirit, determination or the ability to have a positive outlook, which is the true charm of this absolutely masterful piece or art.

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