Winner of this year's Palme D'Or, the highest honour at Cannes Film Festival, director Hirokazu Koreeda has turned in what is sure to be considered his masterpiece after years of sweet, modest and generally underrated films focusing on gently observed stories of Japanese life.
Shoplifters focuses on a loosely related "family" of drifters who squat in an elderly woman's house, stealing from local stores in order to make ends meet in the poor, cramped backalleys of urban Tokyo.
The conditions are poor, but as the shoplifters welcome in an abused street girl of 5 it starts to look something like an ideal family unit.
Koreeda's film is a warm, gentle and humanist experience, delicate and precise in the way that it slowly unfolds these characters' motivations and what they mean to each other.
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Where Shoplifters ultimately goes is at once unexpected and inevitable, arriving at a startling, powerful conclusion that is carried on the back of one of the strongest screen ensembles in years. What is revealed is an honest critique at the failings of society and humanity to protect and support the most vulnerable amongst us.
At once sincere and totally heartbreaking, Shoplifters is a modest film with ground-shaking impact.
Cast:Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, Sôsuke Ikematsu, Sakura Andô,
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Running time: 121minutes
Rating: M (Sexual references)
Verdict: Kindhearted but never sentimental.