Shoplifters Film Review [万引き家族] (2018) – Japanese Heartwrenching Comedy

Shoplifters Film Review [万引き家族] (2018) – Japanese Heartwrenching Comedy

(This is the Shoplifters film review, which is a 2018 Japanese drama film that went on to win the Cannes award.)

This year, Hirokazu Koreeda has graced us with an offering that has famously been premiered in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. It stars some famous stars such as Lily Franky and Sakura Ando, who are veterans in the film industry themselves.  With the past successful films from the director, could this film also be able to capture the heart of the audience as well? Read on the Shoplifters film review below to find out!



A family who is living in poverty resorts to shoplifting in order to survive. One day, when they are shoplifting, they encounter a homeless girl, Yuri, and decides to bring her back home. When they realise that no one is taking her back, they decide to adopt her. However, things start to fall apart when Yuri’s identity is slowly revealed. Could the family stay together to face through this trial successfully?

Shoplifters film review the family

A family living in poverty…yet also in happiness.


Shoplifters Film Review

Shoplifters is a bittersweet and heartwrenching drama about family. It is the 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or, the highest prize at the film festival.

Plot-wise, the film has an interesting structure and to me personally, it felt like we started off in an idyllic dream, an unlikely fantasy if you will. However as the film goes on, subtle layers slowly get peeled away about each of our characters and you literally witness the fantasy come apart at the seams, giving away to an all too harsh but ultimately believable reality. The pacing is rather interesting too… It’s not fast and exciting and yet not too slow and mundane, finding a nice rhythm somewhere in the middle where you can still enjoy their idyllic family life and yet not get bored by it. The film explores interesting themes of what it truly means to be family. Just because you birthed a kid does that immediately qualify you as a parent? Even if you abuse, mistreat and perhaps even regret the kid? Similarly, even if the kid isn’t yours if you love and care for him/her like she was your own… You chose to be a parent and is that not enough?

The casting choices and acting were on point for this film. The chemistry between the family really made the film work as you truly cared and rooted for them as a real family. Some of the dialogue too felt extremely intimate and natural, it did not feel like dialogue from a screenplay.

The cinematography was similarly well done but nothing much stood out to me on first viewing. It suited the feel of the movie, a slightly lazy and intimate feel to the camerawork. It could warrant a second watch to really catch everything.


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Shoplifters Film Review [万引き家族] (2018) – Japanese Heartwrenching Comedy
Reader Rating0 Votes0
What's good
Casting on point, family felt extremely believable
Multi layered story and characters
Meandering pacing that worked to the film's favour
What's bad
The ending can be rather abrupt and emotionally unfulfilling
Certain members of the family got less attention
A really touching Japanese drama film that deserves the award!
This film truly deserves the award for being able to show us a very believable family whose situations and actions could grip your kokoro (heart) very hard!
  [Shoplifters film review score table


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