How far can you go for the ones you love?

Film review of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters (2018).


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Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters was awarded with the Palme d’Or in the 2018 Cannes Film festival, which is the highest recognition given to a film at the said festival. It has also won eight awards at the Japan Academy Prize such as best actress, best screenplay, best director, best lighting, best music, best supporting actress, best cinematography, and best picture.


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Shoplifters is a 2018 drama film that tells the story of six people who adopt each other and consider themselves as a family and their struggle through poverty and other social issues such as abuse and abandonment.

This film is truly a work of art, it’s the kind of film that would make you want to run home to hug your family and tell them how much you appreciate them. It’s the kind of film that you wouldn’t want to re-watch because you know your heart will be broken but you re-watch it anyway because you know the broken heart is worth it.

What I enjoy most about this film is the authenticity of the characters and the plot. All the characters are flawed and dynamic, they’ve either had a difficult upbringing or life was not very nice to them but they try to live their daily lives as normal as possible– not mentioning the stealing and prostitution.

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One of my favorite scenes in the film were that of Nobuyo and Yuri. The way they both opened up to each other about the violence they have experienced in life, the way Nobuyo cared for Yuri as if she was her own, and when Nobuyo told Yuri that the people who hurt you and justify the pain they have inflicted towards you because they love you isn’t true– it was so touching, raw, and vulnerable but also so honest and pure it could make any person feel empathy towards the characters.


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Another favorite scene would be when Osamu and Shota parted ways– if you want your heart broken this scene will definitely do it for you.When Osamu stands for a moment when the bus doors close and you can see him trying to hold his emotions bottled but eventually fails and tries to chase the bus, you can see him regretting his decision. You can see him trying to get Shota back and be better for him, be the father who could support him financially and be the one to raise him. When Shota looks back and calls him father, it ended me. How many times can a heartbreak? Apparently, Kore-eda can break it more than once.

This film makes us ask ourselves– how far can you go for the ones you love? When does love blur the line between good or bad? Can love every justify our wrongdoings?


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The film shows us how lonely we are in the end, how the human races’ Achilles’ heal, which is our need to be with someone– this isn’t limited to a significant other. It shows human vulnerability through the desperation of the film’s characters in keeping the people they are with. The film tells us how common it is for people to need comfort and assurance from another person, how much we crave it, and how much we want it.


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If I was ever asked out of all the films that we have watched in our Introduction to Film class and Film theory and criticism class which one would I suggest, this would definitely be my number one. If you want a film that talks on the true meaning of family, a film that can make you giggle and ugly cry, if you want a film to improve your taste, or if you want a film in general– then this is it.


Ericka Frye

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