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457. Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku); movie review

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Title : 457. Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku); movie review
link : 457. Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku); movie review

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Cert 15
121 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong sex references

We all say it but how much do we adhere to the idiom "don't judge a book by its cover"?
Despite evidence that we should keep our minds open, most of us, if we are honest, will pigeon-hole people from social circles into particular types of behaviour.
This is what makes Hirokazu Koreeda's Shoplifters so unusual because it delves into the most unconventional of family set-ups.
At first, Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky) appears like a stereotypical feckless father who encourages his son (Jyo Kairi) to shoplift.
Complicit in his crime is also his mother (Sakura Andô), sister (Mayu Matsuoka) and grandmother (Kirin Kiki).
It transpires that the family are squatters, trying to eke whatever they can from the system and from the grandmother's savings.
So, initially they appear to be scroungers but then it appears that they are simply on the breadline and simply doing what they can to survive.
However, this being a Koreeda movie, nothing is as straightforward as it seems.
The great Japanese director has been prolific in recent years and I have become a fan.
Last year I wrote his After The Storm: "There are no head-turning moments but it gnaws away by creating flawed characters leading lives which are all too familiar."
Those in Shoplifters are certainly flawed but, thanks to Koreeda's skill, the audience will find itself empathising with them, no matter what they do.
I shall say no more because it is important that people watch Shoplifters with a fresh eye.
But I can say there is another healthy dose of Japanese culture which heightened my desire to visit the country for the first time.

Reasons to watch: Deep and moving exploration of poverty 
Reasons to avoid: Intense moments are sporadic

Laughs: Chuckles
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 8/10

Director quote - Hirokazu Koreeda: "This film is packed with the various elements I have been thinking about and exploring these last 10 years. It is the story of what family means, a story about a man trying to be a father, and furthermore, a coming-of-age story of a boy."

The big question - When is family not family?

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