The Japanese drama won at the Cannes Film Festival SHOPLIFTERS – FAMILY TIES The Golden Palm at the beginning of the year. At the Oscars, the film is now in the running for the “Best Foreign Language Film” award. We reveal in our review why he has good chances.
The Plot Summary
After a thievery spree on a cold winter night, Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky) and his son Shota (Jyo Kairi) meet the little, neglected girl Yuri (Sasaki Miyu). Without further ado, Osamu does what the casual worker does best – he “steals” Yuri and takes her home for a warm meal. His wife Nobuyo’s (Ando Sakura) initial concerns about the new family member quickly disappear. Grandmother Hatsue (Kiki Kilin) and half-sister Aki (Matsuoka Mayu), who works behind a one-way mirror in a strip club, also welcome Yuri into the confines of their old home. Surrounded by anonymous apartment blocks, the colorful group lives happily together with the help of petty fraud, shoplifting and despite adverse circumstances. Until the day an unforeseen incident reveals previously well-protected family secrets. Now it has to be proven whether these people have more in common than their existence as small-time crooks and life artists…
Movie explanation of the ending
How exactly do you define family? As a freely chosen, permanent association of different individuals? Does there have to be consanguinity involved? Which members does it consist of? Do they have to live together under the same roof or is it enough to know that you are “family”? If you’ve ever wanted to know how diverse the term “family” can be interpreted, let the multi-award-winning Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda let you know (“Our Little Sister”) now take part in his very own interpretation of this in his drama “Shoplifters – Family Ties”, which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival. He was inspired by the real living conditions in his home country. Here, people below the poverty line often live in self-selected family groups where it is not possible to see from the outside who is actually related to whom. To say that the dissolution of the family relationships in “Shoplifters” is something of a twist would probably be a bit too much of a good thing. But the fact is that Koreeda plays with it for a long time so that the viewer doesn’t immediately understand who is actually the husband, wife, sister or cousin of whom. But this only makes the core message of his story easier to convey to the viewer: Family cohesion is not a question of kinship, but of mutual sacrifice!
Even if they have to sleep on the floor, they are happy: Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) and Osamu (Lily Franky).
Six people can be seen on the poster for “Shoplifters – Family Ties”. Together they form a community, live under one roof and follow the shared rules both there and in the neighborhood in which they live. They are family; At least that’s what any outsider would think. Hirokazu Koreeda, who was also responsible for the script, makes the fact that one of them doesn’t directly belong to it the opening premise: the little Yuri, left behind on the street, comes across the head of the family, Osamu, and his son, who are the young girl – in the in the truest sense of the word – take you straight into your heart. What follows is a careful getting to know each other and a natural integration into the social structure around Osamu and his wife Nobuyo; Not a culture clash in the classic sense, but after all both sides come from the same social class. Nevertheless, “Shoplifters” is first and foremost about how two sides carefully approach each other and learn to understand the other person and their respective peculiarities. However, the focus is never on the collision of possible differences, but rather on discovering similarities and finding support with each other because you realize that you are better off as a couple than alone. This stripped-back narrative remains subtle even when Yuri’s new family later meets her birth parents. What reigns here is not the great hysteria that is usual in family dramas, but rather the lethargic and, for that very reason, so shocking indifference.
“Shoplifters – Family Ties” is generally a film whose emotional violence tends to bubble beneath the surface. The big emotional outburst can only be seen here in the style of extensive expressions of sympathy, otherwise Hirokazu Koreeda’s work is particularly pleasing because he primarily observes an everyday life that is rather alien to all of us – and never illuminates the circumstances in such a way (both figuratively and literally). also in the literal sense) that the characters acting in it would ever be forced into a victim position. The protagonists earn their money by shoplifting, undressing for strangers in strip clubs, prostituting themselves or living solely on pensions – none of this is stigmatized. However, that doesn’t mean that Koreeda doesn’t allow for criticism. He repeatedly lets his characters debate the circumstances, explains the connections between the living conditions of the protagonist family and the Japanese economic system, and yet consistently avoids classic motifs of poverty kitsch; Yes, here too you will see at some point how a large family sleeps on the floor in a space that is far too small. But in “Shoplifters” such a hackneyed motif is not intended to express how badly this family is doing, but rather serves as the ultimate symbol of family cohesion. This sincere production, which is not aimed at film awards or other prestige, alone ensures that we will not begrudge the award to any “Best Foreign Language Film” candidate this year more than “Shoplifters”.
Young Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) lies thoughtfully on a mattress in the family’s small house.
To tell a film about a character construct that can be identified from the outside as a family due to its loving behavior, of course the actors have to embody it with the appropriate self-sacrifice. The actors, all of whom are almost unknown in this country, merge more and more into a unit over the course of the sometimes a little slow 121 minutes (there is just a bit of narrative action overall) in that each of them is given equally calm, intimate but also irascible acting moments. In his production, Hirokazu Koreeda strikes a precise balance between an ensemble piece supported by the cast as a whole and a film in which each of them can distinguish themselves. Nevertheless, in the end two people in particular remain in memory: Firstly, there is newcomer Miyu Sasaki (“Samurai Gourmet”) as a beady-eyed Yuri who not only defines herself by her status as a poor foundling, but also always causes occasional laughs with her brash manner. On the other hand, Lily also impresses Franky (“Father and son”), who always tries to keep the family structure together as a father desperately fighting for harmony and still tries not to lose sight of his own needs. In addition to the realization of how everything in “Shoplifters” is connected in the end, it is above all the last ten minutes and Franky’s heartbreaking performance that will remain permanently etched in your memory after going to the cinema.
Conclusion: “Shoplifters” redefines the term “family” as director Hirokazu Koreeda takes a generous two hours to explore what holds people together. Despite the local fixation on Japan as the setting, many observations are neither time nor space-bound – also thanks to the fantastic actors – but are simply the result of deep, self-sacrificing love that the drama celebrates with every second.
“Shoplifters – Family Ties” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from December 27th.