Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Movie with Abe: Shoplifters

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Released November 23, 2018

Teaching children the difference between right and wrong isn’t always a simple matter. When parents do something that might be questionably amoral, they may shape their actions as justifiable and interpret them either as a necessary evil or as excusable based on their circumstances. Growing up with the mentality that certain behavior or even criminal activities are allowed can have an effect on a child, with a parent having an unmatched influence on the people whose minds they mold and who they teach about the world.

Osamu (Lily Franky) and Shota (Jyo Kairi) are introduced in a store orchestrating a small theft of goods, with Osamu providing the distraction for his son to stuff a number of items into his bag. On their way home, they see a young girl, Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), seemingly alone and freezing, and take her inside to their home. With little money to even support themselves, Osamu’s wife Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) questions whether she is better off with their family than with those who neglect and abuse her. As she spends more time with them, Osamu and Nobuyo must convey the way that they choose to get by to this lost five-year-old.

One of the most interesting elements of this film is when the younger members of this family unit begin to question what the adults are doing, either getting scared in the middle of a theft or thinking about those who will be negatively affected by what they are taking. Shota in particular proves introspective when Osamu excitedly invites him to steal a bag from the backseat of a locked car, differentiating it from taking only from stores where, according to their family code, no one yet owns what’s still on the shelves. That moral complexity drives this drama about the meaning of actions, the strength of relationships, and the weight of consequences.

This film features great performances all around. Franky in particular takes such a delight in what Osamu does, not merely making ends meet but demonstrating skill at what basically counts as his profession. Kairi and Sasaki impress at a young age, making their characters sympathetic, genuine and believable. This film is Japan’s official submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film this year, making a distinct contribution to international cinema with its layered yet inviting portrait of an unusual family whose way of living helps to bring them even closer.


No comments: