Shoplifters a film about: "the small, the often unnoticed, the easy to miss"


Shoplifters is about the small, the often unnoticed, the easy to miss.

It's about all of these moments; pieces of frequent conversation, cheeky smiles, fast teardrops.

Through these snapshots of human existence, which build a reality too tender in its own faulty way, Kore-eda once again questions what it really means to be connected by blood. Often in his work, charmed by the possibility of love devoid from the overwhelming presence of family relationships, Kore-eda explores its different forms of manifestation through bonds that are established by choice, rather than by nature.

In the centre of a chaotic Japan, a pondering mass of lost individuals, ‘Shoplifters’ have created their home. A home that smells of boiled cabbage and where privacy is lost behind wet towels hanging from the ceiling. It is tiny but it is bursting with affection and warmth. Our characters are seen in unity, complementing one another, in various sizes and ages, all unique. Watching fragments of their marginal lifestyles, we discover their traits and characteristics, so beautifully rendered by Kore-eda. From the youngest, Miss Miyu Sasaki (Yuri), a four year old girl, to the deft old grandma (Kirin Kiki) whose cross-eyed stare can pierce an armour. They hold a counterfeit household, held together by genuine love.

However perfect they may be as fictional characters, their actions throughout the film are far from law abiding.

At one point, we hear the words of a twelve year old boy:

“What is on display on the store doesn’t belong to anyone yet, father says”

Kore-eda plays with questions on morality, and the thin line between the acceptable, the human, and the horrendous. Are our characters excused because of their good intentions? Or does the hard light of day draw them in their natural colours?

There are these little details in the film that make it memorable, that give it its own unique feel. Kore-eda’s films are a genre in itself. His style is distinguishable through its natural, documentary-like dialogues, its focus on marginalised members of Japanese society and a cinematography that values nature and the times of the season as necessary ingredients to show the world.


A film goodbye for Kirin Kiki who passed away from cancer shortly after filming had finished. Her portrayal of an independent and resourceful grandma is an homage to women around the world, and the power within us.

FilmMaya Sfakianaki