Shoplifters | Directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu | Drama | R | 2 H 1 MIN
Written by Anton Charpentier
The balance of comedy and tragedy is one of the most magical aspects of filmmaking. Experiencing the highs and lows of life’s curveballs and the empathy we experience during a film is why I love this medium. A true masterpiece, Shoplifters walks this line effortlessly. Shoplifters is one of the greatest stories told this year, heartwarming and heartbreaking, it perfectly encapsulates what it means to have a family. Shoplifters follows the story of a lower-class family of shoplifters who work to together to rob local stores while also doing everything in their power from living a conventional working-class life. Walking home one night they see a young girl locked outside of her house, clearly neglected, and adopt her into their family. The rest of the film follows their lives as they steal, play, and enjoy life.
As I mentioned, the narrative of the film stands out as a particularly beautiful aspect of the film, but there’s something to be said about the film’s other formal qualities. The camera never feels rigid nor loose, rather it evokes a slow and realistic nature in the story that’s akin to a pleasant memory. The film’s realist qualities bring us closer to the family and are accented beautifully by slight manipulations that give the film a painterly effect. This hint of subjectivity gives the film a very soft touch of empathy and forms a deep attachment to the characters of the film. Leading to a powerful and emotional ending that still brings a tear to my eye. Yet the overwhelming amount of love shown on screen brings a sense of hope to my heart.
The film highlights the beauty in allowing ourselves the freedom to be unburdened by society and instead choose to love openly. A lesson that will forever elude our existence as we become more obsessed about our role in society. We all seek validation from a collective we do not understand or know; yet, the only aspect of existence that ever mattered is family and the love that we receive and give to others. It may seem like an obvious statement to make but few people actual allow themselves the ability to settle with adoration and love that already exists. What Shoplifters depicts is just that, people who are content with the lives they have and seek nothing but enjoying their time on earth with the ones they love.
Shoplifters proves to be a very special film, bringing both smiles and tears to my face and at the end of the day wanting to call me family to tell them how much I love them unconditionally. This sincerity is not something we often see portrayed on film, and when we do it’s often marred by lousy filmmaking. Perhaps this is why I love this film so much, it’s everything I wish we saw in art more often; which is the beauty in being present with life. In sum, this is a film you don’t want to miss and perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of art you could treat yourself to. It remains in my mind an essential film to watch this year and perhaps one of the greatest films of the decade.
Watch the Official Trailer Below