Movie Review: “Shoplifters” from Magnolia Pictures

Ando Sakura, Sasaki Miyu, Jyo Kairi, Lily Franky, Matsuoka Mayu and Kiki Kilin in SHOPLIFTERS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

I recently watched a special screening of the movie Shoplifters, from Magnolia Pictures. Winner of the Palme D’or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, this movie touches the heart and makes the audience think twice about our personal perceptions of reality. Shoplifters is about family; the complicated, yet uncomplicated dynamic of what comprises a family; and how simple actions can come naturally and have a long-lasting effect on children. It’s a coming-of-age story with tender moments directed by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda.

What I love most about Japanese films is they are rarely predictable. This film reveals information in the second and third acts that took me by surprise. Each of the characters had a dynamic and interesting story associated with them.

I love the style of this movie, the message, and the heartfelt lines and moments between the characters. I highly recommend it and dare you to not shed a tear.



On the margins of Tokyo, a dysfunctional band of outsiders are united by fierce loyalty, a penchant for petty theft and playful grifting. When the young son is arrested, secrets are exposed that upend their tenuous, below-the-radar existence and test their quietly radical belief that it is love—not blood—that defines a family.

Interview with Director Hirokazu Kore-eda

Provided by Magnolia Pictures

Hirokazu Kore-eda, director of SHOPLIFTERS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

You decided to make this film after learning about incidents of families illegally receiving the pensions of parents who had already died years ago. Was your intention to depict a family from a different angle compared to your previous films?

The first thing that came to my mind was the tagline: “Only the crimes tied us together”. In Japan, crimes like pension frauds and parents making their children shoplift are criticized severely. Of course, these criminals should be criticized but I am wondering why people get so angry over such minor infractions even though there are many lawbreakers out there committing far more serious crimes without condemnation. Especially after the 2011 earthquakes, I didn’t feel comfortable with people saying repeatedly that a family bond is important. So I wanted to explore it by depicting a family linked by crime.

The theme of this bond is central and other elements are added to it. Can you comment on this?

I started to think about which elements were unfolded and would be examined deeply after the casting was settled. As a result, this film is packed with the various elements I have been thinking about and exploring these last 10 years. It is the story of what family means, a story about a man trying to be a father, and furthermore, a coming-of-age story of a boy.

The impoverished family in the film reminds us of “Nobody Knows.” What can you say about the similarity between that film and Shoplifters?

Shoplifters might be similar to Nobody Knows in the sense that this film also explores closely the sort of “punished” families we regularly see in news reports. It wasn’t my intention simply to describe a poor family, or the lower levels of the social strata. I rather think that the family in the film ended up gathering in that house not to collapse there. I wanted to shine a light on such a family from a different angle.

The later scenes showing the family being split up are heartbreaking. We haven’t seen such anger at social injustice shown so nakedly in your recent films. Can you comment on that?

It’s true, maybe not since Nobody Knows. The core emotion when I was making this film might have been “anger”. Since Still Walking, I have dug desperately deeper and more narrowly into the motif of personal things and after finishing After The Storm, I put the end to this approach of not broadening my vision to society, of minimizing as much as possible. It could be said that I have gone back to where I started.

“SHOPLIFTERS” in Theaters November 23rd

Theatrical one-sheet for SHOPLIFTERS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Disclaimer: WestsideMommy did not receive monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are honest and 100% my own. This post is for informational purposes only. Images and interview copy provided by Magnolia Pictures.