Review: SHOPLIFTERS Tries To Grab Your Heart

FIRST IMPRESSION

Shoplifters is pretty good, with filmmaking that is beyond effective, but not quite great because it fails to hit all of its emotional beats.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Shoplifters is a new film by Hirokazu Koreeda (Nobody Knows). The story follows a family of small-time crooks whose world is turned upside down when they take in a child that they found outside in the cold. It won the Palme D��Or when it debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and is Japan’s official submission into the Best Foreign Language Film race in the Academy Awards.

This movie contains many scenes of sharply-written dialogue. The way in which the characters interact feels so natural even though the situation in which they find themselves is so bizarre. Even more impressive than the dialogue, though, are the nonverbal communications between the characters. From the opening scene, we see that they have basically invented their own language of hand gestures, which makes the film more believable.

The pacing is strong too. There is a good balance between the slow, contemplative moments and the more intense family drama. This keeps the story thoroughly interesting. Leading into the last thirty minutes of the movie, there is an intriguing tonal shift. Surprisingly, this is not jarring.

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

That being said, the film did not have as much emotional resonance as it seemed to want to have. Certain aspects of the plot landed really well, but the impact of the main storyline was hindered by some of the underdeveloped and unimpactful subplots. Some of the members of the family were far more interesting than others.

The characters could have used more development, particularly those with smaller roles. For example, the character of Aki shows quite a bit of promise, but many aspects of her story are not fully explained. Had the movie been twenty to thirty minutes longer and developed some of the supporting characters even further, it would have been even more satisfying.

shoplifters hands
Ando Sakura, Sasaki Miyu and Lily Franky in SHOPLIFTERS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The acting is phenomenal, though. The entire ensemble is great, but Kairi Jö is perhaps the most impressive in the cast. He is extremely talented, especially for someone so young. His emotional range was great, and his ability to carry the film was surprising. Lily Franky and Miyu Sasaki are also great in their roles.

Additionally, the execution is quite strong. The visuals are absolutely beautiful. Although the film’s subject matter is somewhat bleak — a family living in poverty — it is well-lit and steadily-shot. This gives the movie a dreamlike feel, emulating childhood innocence. The score complements the film very well too, further developing the surreal feel.

Overall, Shoplifters was solid, but it wasn’t the masterpiece that some are hailing it to be. Had the characters been more fully-developed, the movie would have been more emotionally resonant.

Shoplifters is now playing in select theaters.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

‘Cartoon Trump & Biden’s Dueling Town Halls’ Ep. 311 Cold Open | Our Cartoon President

Addressing undecided voters before the election, Cartoon Trump talks climate disaster, Black Lives Matter protests, and migrant sterilization with Cartoon George Stephanopoulos while Cartoons Anderson Cooper and Kamala Harris try to reign in Cartoon Joe Biden. Watch new episodes of Our Cartoon President on Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on SHOWTIME. #OurCartoonPresident Subscribe to the SHOWTIME YouTube…

AJ Mendez – The Latinx List • All Accents Welcome

AJ Mendez sits down with her husband Phillip Brooks for a conversation about Latin Heritage Month and representation in TV and film. ABOUT THE LATINX LIST The Black List has teamed with Hulu for the 2020 Latinx List, which focuses one-hour and half-hour original pilots written by at least one Latinx writer and featuring a…

La Révolution | Official Trailer | Netflix

In a reimagined history of the French Revolution, the guillotine's future inventor uncovers a disease that drives the aristocracy to murder commoners. SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of…

Good Morning, Verônica | Official Trailer | Netflix

A serial killer with no limits. A system full of flaws and several hopeless victims. Nothing will stop Verônica's in fighting for justice. Good morning, Verônica is coming on October 1st. SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series,…

Dick Johnson Is Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix

A lifetime of making documentaries has convinced award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson of the power of the real. But now she’s ready to use every escapist movie-making trick in the book - staging inventive and fantastical ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die while hoping that cinema might help her bend time, laugh at pain…

Charlie Gillespie Teaches You to Play “Bright” | Julie and the Phantoms | Netflix

Charlie Gillespie teaches you how to play the song "Bright" from Julie and the Phantoms! Watch Julie and the Phantoms, Only on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80230548 SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/29qBUt7 About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide…

Welcome to a New World of TV | STARZ

Experience a world of television unlike any other. Dive into #AmericanGods, #PValley, #PowerGhost, #Outlander, and more of your favorite shows on the #STARZ App! Subscribe to the STARZ YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/1kalhP0 Like STARZ on Facebook: http://starz.tv/STARZFacebookYT Follow STARZ on Twitter: http://starz.tv/STARZTwitterYT Follow STARZ on Instagram: http://starz.tv/STARZInstagramYT Visit STARZ on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1mkHKgZ

The Comey Rule | Official Trailer #2 | SHOWTIME

Jeff Daniels and Brendan Gleeson star as former FBI Director James Comey and President Donald J. Trump in this two-part event series that tells the story of two powerful men, whose strikingly different ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course. Watch the premiere on September 27 at 9/8c on SHOWTIME. #SHOWTIME #TheComeyRule Subscribe…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here